Wednesday, March 22, 2023

EU still split on nuclear energy

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Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The EU is still split on the role of nuclear energy in the green transition as the bloc prepares to adopt conclusions on environmental diplomacy.

A group of EU member states headed by France wants the bloc to use nuclear energy in its transition towards carbon neutrality, while a group headed by Germany is against the move, according to Reuters reporting on Monday.

The latest environmental debate focuses on production of hydrogen from nuclear energy and its inclusion in new renewable energy plans, with some EU officials warning the dispute could spill over to other policy areas and delay adoption of regulations aimed at reaching environmental targets.

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, commented on the debate on Monday, noting “there are outstanding obstacles, but they will be resolved.”

He pointed out that the bloc needs to settle the debate to set out its diplomatic priorities in preparation for the UN climate summit this year and concluded that he expects EU member states to approve a final text in the coming days.

Broad agreement

According to EU officials, bloc members approved the lion’s share of the text but did not agree on plans to promote hydrogen produced from nuclear energy.

“On the question of hydrogen… there are different positions around the table,” one diplomat noted and added that negotiators want to find a solution as soon as possible.

The EU is planning to scale up production and import of hydrogen produced without emissions to decarbonise energy-intensive industries including steelmaking and fertiliser production.

The group of bloc members headed by France wants the EU to count hydrogen produced from nuclear energy towards its renewable energy targets, while the group headed by Germany does not want such hydrogen to be put on equal footing as hydrogen produced from solar and wind energy.

Nuclear energy traditionally covers roughly 70% of France’s needs, while Germany and Spain are shutting down their remaining reactors and warning that France’s proposal could diminish the push to invest more in other CO2-free energy sources.

The latter group noted that the debate is delaying negotiations and threatening a planned hydrogen pipeline.

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