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CEE/SEE countries unite in defence of nuclear power

The Czech Republic plans to expand its nuclear power station at Dukovany.
The Czech Republic plans to expand its nuclear power station at Dukovany.

Nuclear energy is an affordable and reliable source of energy, which the EU must recognize on a par with other low-carbon sources, a group of EU’s nuclear power states and nuclear wannabe Poland said in a letter to the bloc’s leaders, published in a number of leading newspapers on October 11.

The status of nuclear power in the EU’s decarbonisation drive remains subject to a fierce debate centering on whether the technology should be given support within the so-called “green taxonomy,” a legal framework facilitating environmentally and climate-friendly investment.

“While renewables play a key role in our energy transition, we also need other carbon-free energy sources to meet our needs sufficiently and on a consistent basis,” reads the letter, signed by officials from Poland, Bulgaria, Czechia, Croatia, France, Finland, Romania, Slovenia, and Hungary.

The reliability of energy supplies abruptly became the number one challenge for the EU in the autumn after fickle weather reduced output from wind and solar power installations while gas prices surged due to demand and low storage levels.

“[Nuclear power] prevents European consumers from being exposed to price fluctuations,” the pro-nuclear power countries said in the letter.

All the signatory countries operate nuclear power plants except Poland, which aims at putting its first reactor online by 2033, according to the government’s long-term energy strategy. Slovenia and Croatia co-own the Krsko nuclear power plant built when the two countries were part of Yugoslavia.

EU’s pro-nuclear member states are making efforts to include nuclear energy in the green taxonomy, which is meeting opposition from Germany and Austria. Germany has a programme to decommission all nuclear power by the end of 2022. 

The programme has been subject to increased criticism of late after the necessarily oversized – due to their intermittent character – sectors of wind and solar power require boosting of gas capacity to ensure the stability of supply. 

Recent periods of low wind also resulted in increased use of coal and lignite in Germany, lowering the credibility of using renewables for decarbonizing energy sector.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, a scientific advice body, said recently that nuclear power should be included in the green taxonomy as a useful tool to help attain the goals of the bloc’s climate policy.