EU nuclear sustainability needs expert review, utilities say

13 March 2020

Seven utilities have written to the European Commission, urging it to create an independent group of scientists and experts to evaluate whether nuclear power is a low-carbon and sustainable source of electricity. One of the seven, Czech utility ČEZ, said yesterday that it had "joined the challenge" facing the main European energy companies to gain the EC's agreement that the nuclear industry ought to benefit from future sustainable financing.

The Dukovany nuclear power plant (Image: ČEZ)

On 9 March, the technical expert group advising the European Commission on sustainable finance published its final recommendations on the EU taxonomy, including "substantial new user guidance" to help investors and companies meet obligations for reporting against the framework. In response, ČEZ said that France's EDF and Orano, Finland's Fortum, Romania's Nuclearelectrica, Poland's PGE, and Slovakia's Slovenské Elektrárne had jointly urged an independent evaluation of nuclear energy.

"The technical expert group itself acknowledges that nuclear is too complex to evaluate. If the European Commission and its Joint Research Centre lack expertise in this field, then an independent expert assessment is logically needed. And from my point of view also the participation of national nuclear regulators, who have exclusive insight into nuclear facilities," said ČEZ CEO Daniel Beneš.

In addition, the introduction of new sustainability assessment criteria goes against the meaning of the current European legal framework, he said.

"The European Union is already using very extensive regulations, laws and directives to ensure that nuclear energy does not and cannot cause any damage. This also applies to radioactive waste from operations - their management is not only governed by European directives, but is also under the scrutiny of regulators and international organizations," he said.

Nuclear power already accounts for one-fifth of the European Union’s electricity generation, the statement noted, and can make a significant contribution to the bloc's climate objectives.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News