Despite some countries embracing nuclear power as the obvious solution to the green energy problem that it is over the last 12 months, Europe is still shuttering reactors at a time when it needs them most.
With Europe is a massive energy crisis, what remains of a nuclear industry in Germany is about to be taken offline. This comes as "wholesale power prices are more than four times what they were at the start of the coronavirus pandemic," Bloomberg reported this week.
This comes despite the fact that the EU was slated to label uranium "green" this year. Meanwhile, as the rest of the world moves on to pragmatic solutions, government's across the EU are now facing massive energy bills and a supply crunch.
China, for example, is embracing nuclear in an attempt to try and clean up its air quality. Russia is also embracing new stations and has more than 20 reactors confirmed or planned, Bloomberg wrote. Japan called nuclear "key" to its decarbonization goals late last year.
Peter Osbaldstone, research director for power and renewables at Wood Mackenzie Group Ltd. in the U.K., told Bloomberg: “I don’t think we’re ever going to see consensus across Europe with regards to the continued running of existing assets, let alone the construction of new ones. It’s such a massive polarizer of opinions that national energy policy is required in strength over a sustained period to support new nuclear investment.” Related: U.S. Seeks Help From Key Asian Importers To Send Gas To Europe
Macron in France has also been promising an "atomic renaissance" in the coming years. Poland and the Netherlands have also adopted the idea of adding more nuclear capacity.
But Belgium and Spain are following in Germany's lead and abandoning the power, with worries about another Fukushima continuing to echo, despite the fact that nuclear has been proven to be extremely reliable and safe.
Chris Gadomski, head of nuclear research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, commented: “Despite growing international calls to address climate change and a growing number of national net-zero pledges, the global nuclear industry remains largely on its heels.”
And the EU is still bickering over the "sustainable" label for nuclear. Vince Zabielski, partner at New York-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP said: “It comes down to politics. Everything political ebbs and flows, but when the lights start going off people have a completely different perspective.”
Austria isn't helping the matter, and has threatened to sue the European Commission over attempts to label atomic energy as green, Bloomberg writes.
Investment in nuclear would need to be about $568 billion over the next 30 years to meet emissions targets, Bloomberg writes.
Elina Brutschin at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis said: “Nuclear power is a very long-term investment and investors need some kind of guarantee that it will generate a payoff.”
Manuel Koehler, managing director of Aurora Energy Research Ltd., added: “Other countries don’t have this strong political background that goes back to three decades of anti-nuclear protests.”
Osbaldstone concluded: “Any investment decisions you make now aren’t going to come to fruition until the 2030s. Nuclear isn’t an answer to the current energy crisis.”
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