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Seven EU states in push for nuclear power in Europe

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29.03.2021

The leaders of seven European Union Member States urge support for nuclear in Europe. They have sent a letter justifying its role in climate protection to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and other senior officials, including Kadri Simson, commissioner for Energy. The letter was signed by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, as well as the Prime Ministers of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

«We are convinced that all available zero and low-emission technologies that contribute to climate neutrality while supporting other energy policy objectives should not only be recognised but also actively supported by the European Union», the EU leaders said, as cited by the World Nuclear News. They call to ensure a true level-playing field for nuclear power in the EU placing it on an equal footing with other energy sources. The signatories are also concerned that «the Member State’s right to choose between different energy sources and the right to determine the general structure of the energy supply is currently heavily limited by EU policy making, which excludes nuclear power from more and more policies».

The letter writers point out that nuclear power has a number of advantages over thermal power, and nuclear power plants blend in well with the fighting climate change policy, as while in nuclear power plants operation CO2 emissions are much lower than in fossil fuel or gas power plants operation.

Presently, against a backdrop of ongoing debate in Brussels over a future «green taxonomy» determining financing and long-term investing, the signatories insist on worthy funding for nuclear energy, which not only creates jobs but also is a stable energy producer not dependent on the weather, unlike solar panels and wind turbines. Therefore, several countries urge recognizing nuclear generation as «green» - given its climatic advantages with CO2 low emissions.

The US  leaders call attention to the fact that nuclear power seems to be also a very promising source of low-carbon hydrogen at an affordable price and can play an important role in energy sector integration. It also generates a considerable number of stable, quality jobs, which will be important in the post-COVID recession.

France generating around 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear power is most concerned about the future of nuclear power plants. Poland and the Czech Republic emphasize that the increase in production at nuclear power plants will reduce the number of thermal power plants using coal, from the combustion of which the largest percentage of greenhouse gases emits.

However, some states took a directly opposed approach. For example, Germany decided to stop using nuclear energy after the Fukushima accident. Over several decades, Austria has been a staunch opponent of peaceful atom use systematically calling Europe to eschew nuclear power completely.

By the way, in Austria the nuclear energy era is over before it has begun a silent witness of which is the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant located at the river Danube just off Vienna. Back in the late 1970s, the power plant was ready for operation. All that was lacking was to install the fuel rods and press the start button, but that hasn't happened, because in 1979, in a national referendum, the Austrians unanimously voted to eschew nuclear power.

However, according to scientific data, during the entire production cycle of one kilowatt nuclear power plants emit 6 grams of CO2, while wind generators - 11 g, solar - 80 g, gas turbines - 420 g, and coal-fired power plants - 820 grams that appears to be one of the most convincing arguments in favor of the further development of nuclear power industry.