Written answer to a Question: Competitiveness of nuclear energy

Written answer given by Mr Arias Cañete on behalf of the European Commission to  question by (Rule 130) from Carolina Punset (ALDE) on “competitiveness of nuclear energy.”

Answer given by Mr Arias Cañete on behalf of the European Commission

According to the Long Term Strategy – A Clean Planet for All(1), the main contributors to a carbon-free European power system by 2050 will be renewable energy sources, with an estimated share of more than 80% of electricity coming from those sources, and nuclear power, with an estimated share of about 15%.

The purpose of the scenarios considered in the Long Term Strategy is to present a diverse set of alternative pathways leading to different outcomes, including on the energy mix and resulting emissions. The choice of the scenarios and the economic modelling results of the Strategy take into account the economic and financial viability of all underlying investments and assumptions on the development of technologies, including in nuclear energy, which were prepared inter alia on the basis of structured and open consultation process.

ITER is not designed to produce electricity but to develop fusion as a commercial energy source that would be available in the second half of the century. Therefore, fusion is not envisaged to be a part of the energy mix before 2050.

1. The aim of the long-term Strategy is to confirm Europe’s commitment to lead in global climate action and to present a vision that can lead to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Question for written answer E-006360-18
to the Commission
Rule 130
Carolina Punset (ALDE)

Subject: Competitiveness of nuclear energy

In the recent publication on the strategic long-term vision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050(1), the various scenarios put forward by the Commission to mitigate the rise in global temperature foresee an increase in nuclear energy as a primary energy source.

This commitment by the Commission is at odds with the economic reality of nuclear technology, the clear examples of the major drawbacks that nuclear has been demonstrated to have, the huge construction budgets and the uncertain implementation deadlines that scare off any investor(2).

Given the clear evidence that nuclear technology is not competitive(3), that the construction of new facilities has unpredictable budgets and timeframes, and that it does not provide any degree of flexibility to support renewable energies, one would expect that this technology(4), which generates highly polluting waste, will not be developed.

Furthermore, ITER will not provide power to the grid until after 2040, even if there are no delays in its commissioning(5).

Does the Commission still consider nuclear technology to be competitive?

Why has the Commission not assessed, in its various forecasts of gross fuel consumption, the possibility of a 100% renewable scenario?

(1) https://ec.europa.eu/clima/sites/clima/files/docs/pages/com_2018_733_en.pdf
(2) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-finland-nuclear-olkiluoto-idUSKBN1CE1ND
(3) https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/21/hinkley-point-c-dreadful-deal-behind-worlds-most-expensive-power-plant
(4) https://metropolitan.fi/entry/olkiluoto-ol3-second-most-expensive-building-world
(5) https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40558758

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