EU nuclear trade body calls for 100 new reactors by 2050

05 October 2015

The European Union should maintain at least the current capacity of nuclear generation up to and beyond 2050, entailing the commissioning of more than 100 nuclear power reactors over the next 35 years, Foratom said 2 October. This target would deliver 122 GWe of nuclear capacity between 2025 and 2045.

The nuclear trade body for the EU, Foratom stated the target after submitting a position paper to the European Commission on the planned publication of a revised version of the Illustrative Program for Nuclear Energy, known as PINC. The EC is mandated by the Euratom Treaty to periodically issue a new PINC to indicate targets and program for nuclear production and the corresponding investment required

"Altogether we can expect at least 14 EU Member States to be operating nuclear power plants (NPPs) in 2050. When built, new NPPs have many advantages in the electricity market: they are designed to operate for a long time (60 or even 80 years subject to the national safety regulator's approval); have relatively low fuel and other operating costs; can be centrally and flexibly dispatched; and provide predictable output," it said.

Foratom, which is based in Brussels, said it welcomed the intention of the European Commission to publish a PINC by the end of this year.

"Since the publication of the latest PINC in 2007, the situation for nuclear power has changed considerably both within the EU and globally. The financial crisis, the Fukushima accident and the tensions in Ukraine have all had an impact on the energy sector as a whole as well as on the nuclear sector," Foratom said. "Nevertheless, global interest in nuclear power is growing and there are currently more nuclear power plants under construction around the world than there have ever been." These total 67 reactors, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Confirmation by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that nuclear power is "an effective greenhouse gas mitigation option" needs to be underlined in the PINC, Foratom said. Major investments will be required in nuclear new build, lifetime extension and safety upgrades, fuel cycle operations, decommissioning and waste management, it said.

Nuclear energy contributes to all three objectives of EU energy policy, it said. These are security of supply, decarbonisation of the electricity sector and competitive power prices.

"The EC acknowledges in its Policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030, published in January 2014, that nuclear contributes to a competitive, secure and sustainable energy system in the EU," Foratom said. "[We] ask the EC to apply a technology neutral approach which will facilitate investment in all low-carbon technologies including nuclear, and provide a stable regulatory and investment framework."

Foratom recommends that there should be no nuclear-specific taxes; that the process for obtaining clearance for State Aid from DG Competition must be clear and completed to a strict timetable; and that, should the EU Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy be revised in the future, the EC should not discriminate between low-carbon technologies, which include nuclear energy as well as renewable energy sources.

The EU and the European financial institutions should address existing market failures in many of the Member States and facilitate investment in nuclear energy projects, Foratom said. "This would ease the burden of high up-front capital intensity in order for the overall benefit of nuclear's competitiveness to be realised. All applications for funding should be considered on a non-discriminatory basis."

The EU should also facilitate nuclear development projects by providing a stable regulatory and investment framework given the importance of nuclear power for achieving the EU's climate action goals, it said. "Confidence needs to be built among equity investors in nuclear power projects to maintain Europe's leadership role in nuclear technology and innovation," it said.

"Expected to have high competitive and sustainability advantages, advanced nuclear reactor technology, including Generation IV, should be provided with adequate funding for development and demonstration at EU level, taking into account the EU potential in terms of human and financial resources," it said.

Better harmonisation of regulations across the EU for the licensing of nuclear technology and for obtaining environmental consents would enable nuclear vendors and supply chain companies to compete more effectively in the international market, Foratom said. "Capital intensive projects, like nuclear energy, require regulatory certainty and efficiency for their prompt completion," it said.

The Commission should encourage the nuclear regulatory bodies represented at Ensreg (the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group) and Wenra (the Association of Regulators of Western Europe) to accelerate the harmonisation of regulatory requirements in order to reduce the barriers to deployment of nuclear technologies in the EU Member States, Foratom said.

The World Nuclear Association last month called on the global nuclear industry to aim for a 25% share of world electricity production by 2050, by adding 1000 gigawatts of new generation capacity. Agneta Rising, the association's director general, said on 10 September that the industry was capable of adding 50 GWe of capacity in 2015-2020, 125 GWe in 2020-2025 and 825 GWe in 2025-2050.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News