Nuclear needed for Europe's clean energy transition

18 April 2017

Foratom, the European nuclear trade body, has today published a position paper on the European Commission's 'Clean Energy for All Europeans' package of measures for a clean energy transition. The organisation says the EU's aim to decarbonise the economy by more than 80% by 2050 cannot be achieved without nuclear power.

The European Commission presented the legislative documents on 30 November. They include proposals on renewables, electricity market design, energy efficiency, governance, security of supply, among others. These aimed to "improve the functioning of the energy market and make sure that all energy technologies compete on a level playing field without jeopardising climate and energy targets", it said, adding that it "wants the EU to lead the clean energy transition, not only to adapt to it".

Foratom said today it "welcomes the legislative proposals and considers that the package could ensure a coherent and optimal approach towards meeting the EU 2030 energy and climate objectives, provided it takes into account the views of the nuclear industry".

However, the Brussels-based organisation said the proposals "do not foresee gradual removal of market distortions but rather reinforce them". This, it said, "is in clear contradiction to the goal of achieving decarbonisation in a way that does not endanger the internal market and its integration". Foratom added that the proposed measures do not provide for sufficient investor confidence in low-carbon sources of energy.

Foratom is concerned that "a number of elements in the proposal risk endangering the achievement of a competitive, integrated, secure and decarbonised power market". These include certain energy sources receiving "preferential treatment" on the market; priority dispatch maintained in many cases; ongoing exceptions from balancing responsibility; a lack of clear design principles for capacity mechanisms and, overlaps with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme not being addressed.

Foratom calls for "cost-efficient decarbonisation, an effective power market leading to competitive and affordable electricity prices for end-consumers and the promotion of investments in low-carbon technologies".

It suggests that EU member states should be asked to quantify carbon intensity and to explicitly account for the current and future contribution of nuclear power to the achievement of EU energy and climate goals. It also calls for an EU framework enabling long-term, capital intensive low-carbon investments to be "incentivised via market price signals". Foratom would also like to see an efficient approach to calculating primary energy consumption that does not jeopardize emissions reduction efforts. It also recommends the adoption of a strategy that maintains EU technological and industrial leadership in the nuclear sector.

"Nuclear energy is an indispensable contributor to the achievement of the EU's energy and climate goals," Foratom says. "Nuclear energy accounts for half of the low-CO2 baseload electricity currently generated in the EU. It provides reliable low-CO2 baseload electricity and can provide the flexibility of dispatch required to balance the increasing share of intermittent energy sources, hence continuing to contribute to security of supply."

The 128 nuclear power reactors - with a combined capacity of 119 GWe - operating in 14 of the 28 EU member states account for more than a quarter of the electricity generated in the whole of the EU.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News