The Current Situation and Perspectives on the Use of Nuclear Energy for Electricity Generation:Main Elements of the EU Energy Policy and Strategy

Main Elements of the EU Energy Policy and Strategy

EU Energy Policy

The main elements of the EU Energy Policy are the following:

• A 30 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries by 2020 compared to 1990. In addition, 2050 global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by up to 50 % compared to 1990, implying reductions in industrialized countries between 60 and 80 % by 2050;

• An EU commitment now to achieve, in any event, at least a 20 % reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020 compared to 1990.

It is important to highlight that the application of the new EU Energy Policy should reduce the CO2 emissions in some 2,150 million of tons by 2030, that is to say, 16 % below previous forecasts. This level of emission is equivalent to the current CO2 emissions of Germany, UK, France, and Italy all together (Morales Pedraza 2008).

Meeting the EU’s commitment to act now on greenhouse gases should be at the center of the new EU Energy Policy for three reasons:

• CO2 emissions from energy make up 80 % of EU greenhouse gas emissions; reducing emissions means using less energy and using more clean locally pro- duced energy;

• Limiting the EU’s growing exposure to increased volatility and prices for oil and gas;

• Potentially bringing about a more competitive EU energy market, stimulating innovation, technology, and jobs (Morales Pedraza 2008).

The EU Energy Policy should be prepared based on the realities of the different countries and should contemplate, among others, the following elements:

• The increase in the saving and in the efficiency of the use of the different energy sources now available in the region. Since the 1970s, the European countries have been guaranteeing an economic growth sustained without significant increments in the energy consumption. This achievement is the result not only of a more rational use of the energy, but also to a more efficient use of it. In the 1970s and 1980s, the growth of the European countries was, as an average of 2.4 % annually, being the increment of the energy requirements of only 0.4 %;

• Relevant technological advance that can be able to revolutionize the conversion, transport, and storage of energy, as well as to elevate its efficiency;

• The impact on the environment of the use of the different energy sources;

• An increase in the resources allocated for research and development of the different renewable energy sources and for the discovery of new and even more efficient energy sources;

• An increase of the international cooperation between the European countries and other countries, with the purpose of joining efforts in the use of the renew- able energy sources now available in the world in the most efficient manner. The search for new more efficient energy sources should also be a subject of interna- tional cooperation;

• An increase of the investments in each one of the links of the energy supply chain (Morales Pedraza 2008).

Nuclear energy development programs in each of the EU countries should take into account the above-mentioned EU Energy Policy.

Finally, it is important to highlight the following: According to Schneider et al. (2014), while prospects in the UK are limited, even if only one or two nuclear power reactors are ordered in the UK, the implications of the decision adopted by the EC for the rest of the EU would be significant. About eleven other EU member states are reported to be interested in using the UK model as a basis for ordering in their home markets. This includes Poland, Czech Republic, and France. There would seem to be little doubt that the new regime for nuclear power does represent state aid—it does clearly benefit nuclear power and it is granted by the state. The crux of the case would be whether it favors certain undertakings or the production of certain goods (selectivity) and is liable to distort competition and affect trade between EU member states. Some experts argue it clearly does violate these con- ditions and would, or at least should, be judged to be an unfair state aid and, there- fore, illegal under EU law.

In parallel with this effort, there is also pressure to change the EU guidelines on state aid for nuclear power so that it can be subsidized in the way that renewables and energy efficiency are subsidized in some countries. These efforts are part of a review by the EC of “block exemption regulation” under which the EC can exempt certain categories of aid from the notification requirement applicable to all state aid measures of Article 108 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Those categories refer, among others, to environmental protection. Thus, the General Block Exemption Regulation does not, for example, provide for a gen- eral exemption in the field of energy or an exemption to ensure security of supply.

State aid can be cleared by the EC in some specific cases under the guidelines for environmental protection (2008) and under the Internal Electricity Market Directive (2009). In the first case, energy efficiency and renewable are exempted, whereas in the second case, the state can subsidize infant technologies or projects remedying problems of security of supply. However, it is hard to see how an indus- try with more than half a century of commercial experience can be categorized as infant. Equally, given the very long lead-time for nuclear projects of a decade or more if things go to plan and up to two decades or more if they go wrong, as has frequently been the case, it is hard to see how nuclear power could be portrayed as being appropriate to meet short-term concerns of security of supply.

It is clear that the nuclear industry will lobby hard for favorable treatment under European legislation because without this, its prospects in Europe are mini- mal. However, the impact of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident has been to change the political balance in the EU and it looks highly unlikely that a majority of its member states could be engineered for proposals that favored nuclear power. Regardless, as with the USA and the UK, the economic fundamentals of nuclear power seem so poor that even if the so-called “British model” was cleared for application elsewhere, the resulting number of additional orders would be minimal at least in the European region.

EU Energy Strategy

Developing an EU Energy Strategy is being a long-term challenge for the EC. This needs a clear but flexible framework: Clear in that it represents a common approach endorsed at the highest level; flexible in that it needs periodic updating.

During the preparation of any future EU Energy Strategy, the following opinions and factors, among others, need to be considered:

• Government representatives;

• Legislative representatives;

• Managers;

• Investors;

• Suppliers;

• Consumers;

• Energy sources available;

• Energy demands;

• Foresee energy price.

Six priority areas have been identified and included in the current EU Energy Strategy. These priority areas are the following:

• Energy for growth and jobs in Europe: Completing the internal European electricity and gas markets;

• An Internal Energy Market that guarantees security of supply: Solidarity

between member states;

• Tackling security and competitiveness of energy supply: Toward a sustainable, efficient, and diverse energy mix;

• An integrated approach: To tackle climate change;

• Encouraging innovation: To strategic European energy technology plan;

• Toward to coherent external energy policy8 (Morales Pedraza 2008).

The above-mentioned EU Energy Strategy contains several important elements that all EU countries should take into account during the elaboration of their own energy strategy for the introduction or for the expansion of the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation during the coming years.

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