January 20, 2015
Guest blogpost by Hans Korteweg, Communications & Government Affairs Manager at Westinghouse Europe, Middle East & Africa
2015 promises to be an exciting and crucial year in which European Union (EU) energy policy-makers will play a particularly important role. Over the next months, members of the European Parliament’s Industry and Environment committees will be shaping the EU’s energy and climate future in a rapidly changing world. What will this future look like?
When we look at the world’s energy landscape today, one trend is crystal clear: The EU will need secure, low-carbon and affordable energy.
At present, more than 50% of the EU’s primary energy production is from low or zero carbon renewable and nuclear sources. This push towards a decarbonized power system is increasingly being observed across the EU. Recent articles have reported, for example, how renewable energy is providing the largest share of Germany’s electricity supply and how Denmark is also moving in the same direction. In parallel, more and more governments (such as the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria), thought leaders (like the International Energy Agency), international scientists, and politicians, such as the European Parliament’s Rapporteur on the European Energy Security Strategy Algirdas Saudargas, recognise that nuclear energy has and will continue to play an important role in a secure low carbon energy system.
In the past months, energy security discussions have focused on the vulnerability of Europe’s gas supplies from Russia. Much less prominent in the media and in policy discussions, however, is the fact that some member states today operate nuclear power plants that are still entirely dependent on a single fuel supplier from outside the EU, which makes them – and by extension the rest of the EU – vulnerable to external supply disruptions. The Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia are home to nuclear reactors that are a 100% dependent on nuclear fuel supply from Russia, contributing up to 52% of electricity in these countries.
Interestingly, producers that could provide the same services exist in the EU itself. In this context, Ukraine’s recent decision to significantly diversify its nuclear fuel supplies is a good example. It demonstrates Europe’s strength as a home to a world leading nuclear industry that constructs, maintains, fuels and services a fleet of power plants, which have the highest safety ratings in the world.
As such, nuclear energy which contributes to a secure supply of electricity 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days per year, will continue to be part of Europe’s energy future provided we are prepared and able to look beyond some of the existing strong biases and misunderstandings. In the face of energy security and climate change risks, the EU cannot afford to discard a reliable energy source that produces 55% of its low carbon electricity.Blogactiv Team