In total, the world is home to 435 operational nuclear reactors, with 103 stations in 13 states of the European Union (EU). In Europe, France leads the way with 56 plants, followed by Russia with 37.Today, around half of EU countries generate nuclear energy. France has the most operational nuclear reactors, followed by Belgium and Spain. These countries could boost power generation from existing reactors relatively quickly because most reactors normally do not operate at full capacity.
This was one of the solutions proposed by the International Energy Agency to reduce European dependence on Russian natural gas. There are 106 nuclear reactors operable in the EU. Some reactors are being dismantled, others are being extended and several new units are being planned or built. In addition to power reactors, a full range of fuel cycle plants are in operation in Europe (from enrichment to waste storage and recycling).
It is the responsibility of each EU Member State to decide its preferred choice of energy combination. Currently, 13 of the 27 EU Member States use nuclear energy for power generation. Nuclear energy currently generates just over a quarter of all electricity in the EU. It is important to take into account market failures and the need to protect against investment risks in order to create the necessary market conditions for investment in new nuclear construction projects in Europe.
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. The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) laid the foundations for nuclear energy in Europe in 1957.The institute is a joint initiative of the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, IRSN) of France; the Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) of Germany; the Rez Nuclear Research Institute (UJV) of the Czech Republic; and the Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI). This program 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. Therefore, it is essential that European society and economy prevent any nuclear accident from occurring in the European Union by ensuring the highest possible quality of regulatory oversight and nuclear safety standards in each and every EU Member State.
Reprocessing involves recovering fissionable and fertile materials from nuclear fuel used to provide MOX fuel to nuclear power plants. The European Commission is ready to decide later this year whether to classify nuclear energy as a clean energy source; if it does, it could boost investment in nuclear energy across the region, experts say. 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). The European Nuclear Education Network is a program that promotes educational and research collaboration across Europe.
The EC recommended that the Euratom Supply Agency be responsible for ensuring a diverse supply of nuclear fuel, both for the current fleet of EU nuclear power plants and those that are about to be built. 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. The Euratom Treaty provided a stable legal framework that fostered the growth and development of the nuclear industry, while increasing the security of fuel supply for the nuclear industry and the safety of nuclear power plants.
Countries against the expansion of nuclear energy, including Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal, have expressed concern about the disposal of nuclear waste and the risks of an accident. The money from the transition fund under the plan will not finance the construction of nuclear power plants, despite the fact that nuclear energy provides 50% of the EU's low-carbon electricity.