Energy Efficiency

Nuclear Energy to Be Used for Low-carbon Hydrogen Production

Brussels-based nuclear industry group FORATOM has taken note of the two strategies released in relation to smart sector integration and hydrogen. The Association welcomes the addition of a low-carbon hydrogen category but its usage should not be limited to the short and medium term. FORATOM nevertheless remains concerned that the insufficient attention is paid to low-carbon, non-fossil fuel sources of hydrogen, such as nuclear.

“Nuclear is a very versatile and proven technology, providing low-carbon electricity that can be used for the production of clean hydrogen and heat for industrial processes or district heating. For example, in 2018, around 350 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electrical equivalent heat of district heating and process heat was generated in the EU and Switzerland,” states Yves Desbazeille, FORATOM’s Director General. “Given the huge challenge which Europe will face over the next 30 years, it is essential that policymakers do not focus only on variable renewables. Transforming our energy system is going to require ALL low-carbon solutions currently available. And EU policy must reflect this,” he adds.

Electrification should be the main driver for a future integrated energy system. Indeed, a decarbonised power system can help other sectors in achieving the GHG reduction targets. But for some industries electrification will not be enough and therefore low-carbon hydrogen can provide an ideal solution, as long as it is available when they need it – and at an affordable cost.

“In terms of smart sector integration, low-carbon hydrogen is an important solution for hard to decarbonise sectors, such as industry and transport,” mentions Yves Desbazeille. “But these sectors are going to depend on a significant amount of affordable hydrogen, 24/7. Therefore, it is essential that these EU strategies recognise ALL sources of low-carbon hydrogen, including nuclear”.

In order to produce affordable hydrogen, electrolysers will need to run constantly on low-carbon electricity. With nuclear complementing variable renewables (wind and solar) in supplying power for low-carbon hydrogen production, this will ensure a quasi-baseload electrolyser which will trigger decreasing production costs. This is why FORATOM believes that it is essential for the EU to adopt a technology neutral approach based on the impact of each technology on the CO2 emission reduction targets. The Association therefore urges the EU to acknowledge the important role that the nuclear energy sector will play alongside renewables.

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