Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Finland, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia asked the European Commission to include nuclear power in the EU’s green taxonomy framework and recognize it as a low-carbon technology. It would give nuclear energy projects access to state aid.
Numerous media outlets published a joint statement by ministers from ten European Union member countries in which they advocate for the inclusion of nuclear power as a green or transition technology in the sustainable finance taxonomy by the end of the year. France and Poland are leading the group, which includes four Southeastern European states: Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.
The remaining members are the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia. The European Commission published the green taxonomy in April to offer technical insight into the climate performances of renewable energy technology and their compliance with the EU’s climate goals. It didn’t include nuclear power.
According to news reports, the group also sent the request to the European Commission.
Two opposing blocs emerge in EU’s nuclear power dilemma
Germany, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain are strongly opposing the demand. They argued in their own joint statement in July that adding nuclear power to the taxonomy “would permanently damage its integrity, credibility and therefore its usefulness.”
If the EU endorses the initiative to label nuclear power as a low-carbon technology, such projects would get access to state aid. They may also attract banks and investment funds that have climate goals.
Ministers from ten EU member countries claim renewables can’t provide enough electricity for the energy transition away from fossil fuels
“Nuclear power must be part of the solution” for countering climate change but also for the current energy crisis and price volatility, according to ministers of economy and energy from ten countries. Of note, the EU’s Joint Research Centre earlier found that nuclear energy doesn’t hurt human health or the environment more than other electricity sources.
The EU countries that asked for nuclear power to be labeled as green acknowledged the role of renewables in the energy transition, but they also claim such sources don’t have the potential for the production of clean power “at a sufficient and constant level.”
Opponents such as Greenpeace point to the risks from radioactive waste and accidents. They say nuclear power is expensive and that such facilities take a long time to be built.
France isn’t willing to lower its dependence
President of France Emmanuel Macron has just presented an investment plan worth EUR 30 billion including EUR 8 billion for renewables, green hydrogen and nuclear energy and EUR 4 billion for transportation and mobility. The government will allocate EUR 1 billion for small modular reactors, a new nuclear technology, he revealed.
France gets more than two thirds of its electricity from nuclear power plants while Germany intends to shut down all its remaining reactors next year.
Croatia and Slovenia may soon start official negotiations on plans for a second bloc in joint nuclear power plant Krško, according to Minister Tomislav Ćorić
In other news, Croatia’s Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Tomislav Ćorić said he would officially tell Slovenia next week that negotiations on the construction of the second reactor at the joint Krško nuclear plant can begin. He added his country is examining the possibility to sign a ten-year contract with Hungary to buy electricity from its nuclear power plant Paks.
Austria is opposing the project for the second reactor at Krško in its neighboring Slovenia. Croatia is against Slovenia’s plan to deposit its part of nuclear waste near their common border, while Bosnia and Herzegovina has a similar issue with Croatia.
Hungary is working on the Paks 2 project with Russia to expand its existing nuclear power plant. Its government suggested to Serbia last year to send it excess power from Paks and get electricity from hydroelectric plants in return.
Romania intends to refurbish and expand its Cernavodă nuclear plant in cooperation with Canada. Bulgaria is not giving up on the expansion of its Kozloduy nuclear power plant, and it is also considering the possibility to build other such units. All the projects in the region haven’t been able to get off the ground for years.