Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

EU estimates €500bn investment needed in nuclear power by 2050

Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, January 11th 2022 à 15:40 | Read 361 times

Is nuclear power green? The EU will decide (photo: EDF)
Is nuclear power green? The EU will decide (photo: EDF)
EU. In an interview with the French daily Journal du Dimanche (JDD), published on Sunday 9 January 2022, Thierry Breton says that the EU must invest massively in new generation nuclear power plants. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market estimates that it will be necessary to devote a budget of more than €500 billion between now and 2050, of which €50 billion will be spent on existing plants before 2030.

"The ecological transition will bring about an industrial revolution on an unprecedented scale. It will also lead to a race for capital between the various energy sources - for example, renewable energies alone will have to mobilise €65 billion in investment per year. In addition, €45 billion in annual investment will be needed to build additional network infrastructure," says Thierry Breton.

On 31 December 2021, the European Commission unveiled a controversial proposal for a green label for nuclear and gas power plants. This would offer a sesame to this energy to enter the "taxonomy". This European classification system for economic activities entitles investments to better financing conditions in the name of a positive contribution to the preservation of the environment in the fight against climate change. The text is now in the hands of the Member States, which must give their opinion, and any amendments, before the European Parliament votes on it.

France, which has held the presidency of the Council of the European Union since 1 January 2022 land wants to revive its nuclear industry, and several central European countries (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in particular, as they intend to replace coal with nuclear power) support this approach. Germany and Belgium (which is dismantling its nuclear facilities) are much more reluctant. In July 2021, four-seven MEPs had pleaded in a letter to the European Commission for the construction of new nuclear power plants. The status of nuclear power continues to be debated.

26% of the electricity produced in Europe is of nuclear origin

However, the draft does not intend to grant this label to all nuclear power plants and therefore provides for safeguards. Any new plant will have to have "a plan, funds and a site for the safe disposal of radioactive waste" to qualify, and any application will have to have received planning permission "before 2045". Similarly, the green label will only be awarded to gas-fired power plants with CO2 emissions of less than 100g per kWh, except for those that obtain their building permit before 31 December 2030, which will be allowed to emit 270g of CO2 per kWh for a while, before reaching 100g.

The European Union, the third largest energy consumer in the world behind China and the United States, has a target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. "Including nuclear power in the taxonomy is therefore crucial to enable the sector to attract all the capital it will need," Thierry Breton stressed in the JDD.

Today, 26% of the electricity produced in the EU is of nuclear origin. According to Thierry Breton, this figure should reach "at least 15%" of the energy mix by 2050. On 14 July 2021, the European executive set the ratio of clean energy in the EU's energy mix at 40% by 2030.

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