EU eying nuclear power

In an effort to reduce its dependence on Russia and lower its CO2 emissions, the EU is looking to boost its nuclear energy capacity.

Germany made headlines in the immediate aftermath of Fukushima when it announced it would phase out nuclear power. While those plans haven’t changed, the EU is heading in a different direction.

According to an article in the German daily newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the EU wants to defend its technological dominance in the nuclear sector. This will require member states to strengthen cooperation in R&D, financing and construction of new, innovative reactors.

The EU is also eying so-called flexible mini-reactors and wants these to be in use in Europe by 2030 at the latest.

The EUs nuclear policy plans are laid out in a strategy paper, which the commissioners responsible for energy are expected to adopt on Wednesday. It will then be presented to the EU parliament, reports the FAZ.

The proposal is surprising in light of Germany’s intention to remove its last nuclear power plant from the grid in 2022 and recent incidents at the Tihange and Doel nuclear power plants in Belgian, writes the FAZ. But insiders suspect that politics are at play, especially the EU’s wish to free itself of Russian oil and gas.

The EU is also likely looking for ways to comply with the ambitious CO2 reduction targets agreed upon in at the UN climate talks in Paris last December.

But critics aren’t taking these plans lightly, reports another German newspaper Die Welt. “This is the last desperate gasp of the nuclear lobby. Billions in subsidies have kept alive a failed, dangerous and financially untenable technology,” said Greenpeace, adding that the planned mini-reactors “are an invitation for terrorists.”


Image credit: Greg Dunlap, flickr/Creative Commons

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