FORATOM would have liked to see the European Commission’s (EC) energy price communication pay closer attention to the role which low-carbon and dispatchable nuclear can play in mitigating the current energy crisis. By including European nuclear in its toolbox of measures to tackle energy prices, it would have a unique opportunity of limiting its dependence on carbon intensive natural gas imports, thereby reducing its exposure to wholesale price fluctuations and its carbon footprint.
“As highlighted in the communication, the current price increases are being driven by higher natural gas prices on the global market”, states Yves Desbazeille, FORATOM Director General. “Therefore, as the EU moves to increase its share of variable renewables, it is essential that EU policy supports other low-carbon European sources to ensure reduced dependency on imports.”
The Communication also highlights the effects which lower availability of renewables has had on the market, leading to supply constraints. Because nuclear can provide both baseload and dispatchable electricity, it acts as a perfect counterbalance at times when renewables are unavailable. As noted in the Communication, nuclear currently accounts for around 25% of the electricity mix in the EU.
With industrial activity ramping up post COVID, this has led to an increase in demand for energy. “It would be a mistake to treat this as a short-term issue. It is clear that demand for electricity is expected to increase dramatically in the push to decarbonise Europe’s economy,” adds Yves Desbazeille. “Therefore, the EU needs to already be putting solutions in place today to ensure that it is able to generate enough low-carbon electricity in Europe to meet growing demand. This means supporting the development of nuclear energy”.
“The Communication also refers to the sustainable finance taxonomy, reiterating the point that a complementary Delegated Act (CDA) ‘will cover nuclear energy subject to and consistent with the results of the specific review process underway in accordance with the EU Taxonomy Regulation’. As this review is now complete, and the experts have overall concluded that nuclear is taxonomy compliant, we urge the Commission to urgently publish the CDA to avoid nuclear being unfairly penalised,” FORATOM concludes.