NUCLEAR industry representatives from across the supply chain have issued a manifesto outlining steps that need to be taken to decarbonise Europe by 2050, and called on policy makers to work with them to make this happen.
Nuclear power can play an important role in tackling the climate crisis as it is a form of clean energy, however a recent International Energy Agency report warned that the world is at risk of a steep decline in nuclear power. In the UK, only one new nuclear power plant is currently under construction, while other planned facilities have been suspended. Germany continues to decommission its nuclear plants following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan in 2011, and plans to shut down all its reactors by 2022. This has led to an increased reliance on coal power, and Germany’s plans to phase out coal by 2038 are inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.
At the Nuclear in a Changing World conference in Bucharest, Romania, nuclear industry representatives gathered to discuss topics on key challenges in the EU, the role of long-term operation of nuclear power plants, and how to ensure the industry has the necessary skills. The event was organised by FORATOM, the European nuclear trade body. It was held on 26 June, just days after the EU failed to agree a net zero target by 2050.
A statement from FORATOM said that significant investments in low-carbon technologies will be necessary to decarbonise the European economy, including investing in the long-term operation of the existing nuclear fleet and the construction of around 100 GW of new power plants. This is achievable if EU institutions, member states, and the nuclear industry work together. A manifesto was released at the conference which calls on EU policy makers to work with the nuclear industry.
The manifesto includes aims for the nuclear industry, including delivering the required capacity on time and at a competitive cost, undertaking R&D to identify areas where the nuclear industry can help decarbonise other sectors, and continuing to manage used nuclear fuel and invest in technologies to reduce waste. It then recommends that the EU should undertake a number of steps including agreeing a net zero target for 2050, ensuring a stable EU policy framework that fully integrates nuclear into all energy power discussions, and supporting a stable low carbon energy mix by recognising nuclear’s role in providing grid stability.
“We very much welcome this initiative taken by the CEOs and Chief Nuclear Officers from the nuclear industry, particularly with the arrival of a new European Commission and European Parliament this year,” said Yves Desbazeille, Director General of FORATOM. “Achieving a carbon-free Europe by 2050 is a very ambitious target and it is important that we make the best use of all decarbonisation tools already available today. Nuclear energy is internationally recognised as a crucial asset in the fight against climate change and we, as an industry, stand ready to play our part.”
Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.