Nuclear Long-Term Operation will help Europe meet its climate goals

Brussels, 20 June 2018: FORATOM, the voice of the European nuclear energy industry, called on the European Commission and other EU institutions to recognise and reward the long-term operation (LTO) of nuclear reactors given its role in meeting Europe’s long-term climate goals during a workshop held yesterday in Brussels.

“Nuclear LTO pays off for a number of reasons. It incurs low capital investment costs, requires a relatively short realization time for upgrade works and – most of all – it enables a reliable, low-carbon and affordable source of electricity to be retained in the mix at lowest cost”, underlines Yves Desbazeille, FORATOM Director General. “If the European Union wants to meet its climate goals, nuclear LTO will play an indispensable role in the EU’s future energy mix. Therefore, the EU institutions should recognise and reward it with incentives for the benefits it brings to the system”.

Currently there are 126 operational nuclear reactors in 14 Member States, providing more than a quarter of the overall electricity production in the EU. The European Commission in its Nuclear Illustrative Programme (PINC) published in 2017 stated that nuclear is expected to maintain its significant role in Europe’s future energy mix up to 2050. The objective will require investment in nuclear LTO of around €40-50 billion by 2050. According to the Commission, there are currently up to 50 nuclear reactors at risk of early closure over the next 10 years, assuming their operators don’t pursue LTO licences.

“The early closure of 50 reactors would translate into slowing down significantly the decarbonisation of Europe, maintaining CO2 emissions at the current level and losing the equivalent of around 7 years of renewable energy expansion” adds Yves Desbazeille. “Take a look at Germany, which is set to miss its 2020 emission targets by a wide margin. If the country had decided in 2011 to phase out 20 GW of coal plant capacity instead of nuclear, it would have reached its emission targets and now it could be rightly recognised as the European climate champion”.

The workshop “Shaping Europe’s Energy Mix of the Future – A Role for Nuclear LTO” gathered together stakeholders from various EU institutions, national regulators, and many representatives from the nuclear industry. Invited speakers discussed the current status of LTO and its role in Europe’s future energy mix, the industry’s needs and challenges, the contribution of LTO to securing energy supply in the EU and fighting climate change, its role in preserving nuclear expertise and maintaining highly-skilled jobs, and the impact of LTO on national economies.