Nuclear energy 'indispensable' says EU report

25 October 2007

Members of the European Parliament have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a report that states that nuclear energy will be indispensible if the EU is to meet its basic energy needs in the medium term.
The report, Conventional Energy Sources and Energy Technology was adopted with 509 votes in favour, 153 against and 30 abstentions. It was drafted by Herbert Reulof the EPP-ED group (Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in the European Parliament).

Acknowledging that nuclear energy is a key component of power supply in most EU member states, providing one third of the EU's electricity supply, MEPs said that nuclear energy would be "indispensable if basic energy needsare to be met in Europe in the medium term." Given that "nuclear energy is currently the largest low-carbon dioxide energy source in Europe,"they added, "the renunciation of nuclear power will make it impossible to achieve the objectives set regarding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the combating of climate change".

The report predicted that on current trends, the EU would rely on imports to meet 65% of its energy needs by 2030. Yet, the report said, gas and oil supplies are dogged by uncertainty due to geopolitical risks and growing demand elsewhere.

European energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that "It will be difficult... to achieve our climate change goals without the use of nuclear energy." Foratom, the trade body for the European nuclear power industry, said in a release that the acceptance of the report was "highly significant" as it was the first explicit endorsement of nuclear power as "the largest low-carbon energy source in Europe."

The need to produce and use energy more safely, efficiently and sustainably across the EU was also underlined in an own-initiative report on "conventional energy sources" adopted by the European Parliament. 
MEPs underlined that conventional sources will remain highly important in ensuring the EU's security of energy supply. However, MEPs stressed that the EU and its member states should redouble their research and development efforts towards "enhancing the efficiency of energy production and supply, reducing environmental consequences, improving the safety of existing technologies, developing storage techniques for renewables and developing new generations of nuclear reactors."

MEPs called on the Commission to quickly table legislative proposals on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology "so as to respond to the legal issues surrounding the storage and transportation of carbon dioxide." They underlined "that CCS should be fitted to fossil fuel plants at the earliest practical opportunity." The committee nonetheless acknowledged that CCS technology is linked to losses of efficiency in power stations and called for research to address the issue.
Members also stressed the significant potential of energy generation from biomass, the need for the EU to support synthetic fuels technology and, with a view to the diversification of gas imports, the importance of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Further information

European Parliament procedure file and legislative dossier