Ten EU nations call for nuclear's inclusion in taxonomy

11 October 2021

Nuclear energy must be included in the framework of the European taxonomy before the end of this year, energy and economy ministers from ten EU member states said in a joint article published in several European newspapers yesterday. The ministers said nuclear energy is "an affordable, stable and independent energy resource". The Czech Ministry of Energy described the nations as a 'Nuclear Alliance'.

The European Commission building in Brussels (Image: Dimitris Vetsikas/Pixabay)

"The decarbonisation of our economy requires immediate and profound transformations in our [energy] production and consumption patterns, to make them less CO2 emitting," said the article submitted by 15 ministers from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. "This means massively electrifying our consumption and developing low-carbon industries such as hydrogen - which also require, in turn, producing more electricity."

"Nuclear energy must be part of the solution," they said. "Renewables play a key role in the energy transition, but we need other sources of carbon-free energy to meet our needs consistently and sufficiently. Nuclear energy is essential. It already accounts for almost half of Europe's carbon-free electricity production."

"Nuclear energy is safe and innovative," the article added. "For more than 60 years, the European nuclear industry has proven its reliability and safety. It is one of the most regulated sectors in the world, with 126 reactors in operation in 14 European countries. The constant exchanges between agencies give this industry the ability to guarantee the highest safety standards in the world. This is especially true for the treatment of waste.

"The European nuclear industry is a leading industry in the world, with unique disruptive technologies. Its development could generate nearly one million highly skilled jobs in Europe. As cooperation between Member States develops, we will soon be able to build new, modern reactors, such as small modular reactors."

While EU Member State are free to choose their own energy mix, the ministers said: "It is essential that our rights in this area are respected, and that all low-CO2 energy production technologies are considered fairly."

The article added: "It is therefore absolutely essential that nuclear energy be included in the Framework of the European Taxonomy before the end of this year. All the scientific analyses commissioned by the European Commission on the environmental impact of nuclear energy lead to the same conclusion: there is no scientific evidence that nuclear energy would contribute more to global warming than other energies include in the taxonomy."

The Czech Ministry of Energy described the nations as a 'Nuclear Alliance', placing itself and France as the creators of the grouping. "The alliance is based on an ideal opportunity," said Karel Havlíček, minister of trade and industry. "France will take over the presidency of the EU Council from January." 

Nuclear power, they said, is "our best weapon" in the fight against climate change. "It is a clean, safe, independent and competitive source of energy. It offers us Europeans the chance to continue to develop an industry with high added-value, to create thousands of skilled jobs, to strengthen our environmental ambitions and to ensure Europe's strategic and energy autonomy. Let us not miss such a crucial opportunity."

The EC launched its Action Plan on Financing Sustainable Growth in March 2018 and adopted a package of measures two months later. Then, in July 2018, a Technical Experts Group (TEG) on sustainable finance set up by the Commission began assisting it in developing a unified classification system for sustainable economic activities. The TEG published its Taxonomy Technical Report in June last year. Nuclear energy was excluded from the list of sustainable economic activities. However, in September 2020, the European Council decided to remain technology neutral in its strategy on financing sustainable growth and the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.

On 16 December last year, the European Union agreed on a unified classification system to encourage private investment in sustainable growth and contribute to a climate neutral economy.

In March, the leaders of seven EU Member States wrote to the EC on the role of nuclear power in EU climate and energy policy. "We call on the European Commission to ensure that the EU energy and climate policy accommodates all paths to climate neutrality according to the technology neutrality principle," the letter said.

The following month, the European Commission announced its decision to include nuclear energy in a complementary Delegated Act of the EU Taxonomy Regulation, which will also include natural gas.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News