The Debate on Nuclear Energy in Europe: Is it Sustainable?

The debate on nuclear energy sustainability in Europe has been reignited due to populist power. To determine if it can play a role in future energy policy, it must meet basic sustainability criteria.

The Debate on Nuclear Energy in Europe: Is it Sustainable?

The debate on nuclear energy in Europe has been reignited due to the rise of populist power. To determine if nuclear energy can, or even should, play a role in future energy policy, it must meet basic sustainability criteria. Currently, a complex discussion is taking place within the EU on whether nuclear energy should be part of the Taxonomy of Sustainable Activities. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led Europe to reconsider its energy mix.

Migration of Russian supply chains has become a priority, and Europe is considering nuclear energy as a possible alternative. But views on nuclear energy vary across the European Union, where a quarter of all electricity comes from reactors that often age in a dozen countries. The European Nuclear Education Network is a program that promotes educational and research collaboration across Europe. It allows students to earn credits in a nuclear discipline outside their host country to obtain the additional qualification of the European Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering.

EU industry association Foratom said the directive reinforces the role and independence of Europe's national regulators and supports agreed safety objectives for nuclear power plants, in line with recommendations from the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA). In order to create the necessary market conditions for investment in new nuclear construction projects in Europe, it is important to take into account market failures and the need to protect against investment risks. Bill and Mark discussed the prospects for nuclear energy in Europe as the war persists, the potential for new reactors as an alternative to Russian oil and natural gas, and the safety of Ukraine's nuclear reactors in the midst of the war. Continuing concerns following the Chernobyl accident over two types of Russian nuclear reactors in Eastern Europe led the EU to demand their closure as part of EU accession negotiations with host countries.

The Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) is a network of core regulators from EU countries with nuclear power plants and Switzerland, with members from 17 countries. It covers all civil nuclear activities in the European Union and aims to provide a common market for nuclear materials, ensure the supply of nuclear fuel and ensure that nuclear materials do not deviate from their intended purpose.Formed in 1999, WENRA has played an important role in coordinating safety standards across Europe, including significant participation in Eastern Europe. With few options that offer true energy sovereignty, there is now a renewed enthusiasm for nuclear energy among politicians in Europe. Cooperation within Europe and between Europe and third countries operates at several different levels.

The EU also supports nuclear safety through several agencies and programs, such as the TACIS (CIS States) and PHARE (Eastern Europe, including the Baltic States) programs and various funds.

Nanette Thrun
Nanette Thrun

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