January 24, 2008
This European Business summit (EBS 2008) workshop will discuss nuclear energy.
This post sets out the scope of this EBS 2008 workshop (see EBS ‘08 programme). Everyone interested in the topic, whether they’re coming to EBS 2008 or not, is welcome to use this blog to comment or submit their own ideas – see About this blog.
A. Context and objective of the thematic session
- In recent years, the world has been experiencing a renaissance of nuclear power generation:
Source: Wikipedia, December 2007
- In particular strategic considerations on security of supply and on the reduction of greenhouse gases have led to increasing – or consideration of increasing – nuclear capacity throughout the world, including in several EU countries.
- At the same time other countries in the EU continue to implement programmes to decommission their nuclear power plants. A 2005 Eurobarometer survey has shown that the European public is concerned about nuclear energy, in particular regarding radioactive waste. At the same time the survey revealed that the general public is ill-informed about the benefits of nuclear power, e.g. as regards climate protection.
- Decisions on how to meet demand in future energy generation in the EU have to be taken soon: by 2030 some 520 GW in electricity generation will have to be newly built or replaced, amounting to an investment volume of 600 billion Euros in EU15 alone.
- The global renaissance in nuclear power also presents a huge market opportunity. EU companies have considerable know-how in nuclear power throughout the generation cycle from planning and construction to operation, use and decommissioning of plants.
- The thematic session will discuss whether the world in general and the EU in particular is ready for a nuclear renaissance. What are the risks and opportunities for European business, and where can and should EU policymakers act?
B. EU policy action
- The energy mix in the EU is a national competence. However, the EU has an important role to play in helping Member States coordinate their respective policies.
- The Euratom Treaty gives the EU far-ranging competences in coordination work, e.g. as regards the promotion of R&D on nuclear energy or the establishment of common safety standards. Member States are obliged to inform the Commission on their planned activities on nuclear energy.
- The European Commission underlined in its January 2007 Energy and Climate Package the interest of nuclear energy in economic and climate protection terms. It has published a specific communication on nuclear energy, the “Nuclear Illustrative Programme”.
- It has created, in October 2007, a High Level Group on Nuclear Safety and Waste Management consisting of representatives of national nuclear regulators.
- In the context of the 7th EU Framework Programme on R&D, the EU will establish Technology Platforms to better coordinate national research on nuclear energy.
C. EU business recommandations
- BUSINESSEUROPE believes that there is a significant potential for increasing the share of nuclear in electricity production above its current level of 32% in the EU.
- BUSINESSEUROPE insists that national and European strategic discussions give nuclear energy the same level of attention accorded to other energy generating sectors. Nuclear energy must compete on a level playing field with other energy sources.
- In particular, BUSINESSEUROPE calls for national and EU authorities to give high priority to the removal of administrative barriers which prevent nuclear energy to reach its full development potential, such as:
- i. Barriers in the planning processes
- ii. Excessively complex processes for approving technical design
- iii. Slow resolution of long-term hazardous waste disposal issues
D. Possible questions for the thematic session
- Does the EU need more capacity in nuclear electricity generation?
- What are the biggest challenges in making nuclear energy secure and competitive?
- High capital cost
- Waste management
- Safety in construction and operation
- Proliferation risk
- Do we have the right institutional framework on European and international level to cope with the future challenges of a nuclear renaissance? Should the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency be enhanced?
- What can be done to have a better informed debate in Europe on nuclear energy and its benefits and risks?
- Has the EU used to the full its available policy instruments on nuclear energy? Could and should the EU envisage coming forward with a nuclear energy policy comparable to the renewable energy policy it has launched following the decision, taken by the European Council in 2007, on a 20% share in renewables by 2020?
E. Further reading
- European Commission Communication: Nuclear Illustrative Programme presented under Article 40 of the Euratom Treaty, 10 July 2007
- BUSINESSEUROPE position : Energy for Europe : keeping all options open including nuclear, November 2007
- Foratom Declaration signed by Members of the European Parliament: “Nuclear Energy – Part of a Low-Carbon Energy Future” (pdf)