Long-Term Operation Of Nuclear Plants Vital For Future Of Grid, Says Expert
Argument that reactors are expensive "does not hold any more", conference hears. Nuclear plants will be needed for the future stability of Europe’s grid, Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega said.
Marc-Antoine Eyl-Mazzega, director of the centre for energy and climate at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), told the nucleareurope 2023 annual conference in Lyon that a decision is needed because at a time when European electricity demand will be increasing, the region may have its lowest level of available baseload capacity, particularly as baseload plants such as coal are shut down.
The resilience of the energy system matters, he said, adding that renewables and interconnections are decisive, hydro power will be increasingly non reliable while keeping coal plants in reserve may help.
The German and Austrian argument that nuclear power is expensive and a more competitive mix is one including renewables, gas, and hydrogen does not hold any more. “Gas no longer comes cheap and has an environmental and geopolitical footprint, renewables have limitations and their deployment costs increase, alongside those of grids, and hydrogen will be very expensive to scale up.
European power grids are ageing and need to be modernised, digitalised and developed.
The EU needs to work on scenarios where we fail to meet energy transition policy objectives and see the consequences.
Brussels ‘Must Recognise Nuclear’
“Is there any understanding that we risk slipping into an economic and energy union where massive, selective subsidies at the member state level will be the tool to address market and policy failure at EU level? This can lead to fragmentation and populism,” Eyl-Mazzega said.
European policymakers have begun attempts at tackling increasing concerns over the EU’s overreliance on China-based raw material and industrial supply chains in the solar panel and wind turbine sectors.
A 2022 report by the International Energy Agency found that over the last decade manufacturing capacity for photovoltaic solar panels has shifted to China away from Europe, North America and Japan. The agency has said China is today the leading supplier and net exporter of clean energy technologies.
In March 2023, the European Commission proposed the Net-Zero Industry Act aimed at boosting the bloc’s manufacturing capacity of net-zero technologies. It is designed to improve EU industrial competitiveness in the sector, but so far has excluded the mainstream nuclear power industry with support for only Generation IV technology and SMRs.
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