Europe is facing an energy crisis and solutions must not only be expedient but also green. With the price of natural gas soaring within the European Union and renewables lagging behind schedule, an answer to the grouping's problems lies in a clean and ample energy source: nuclear.
"The long-term response to the current situation in Europe must be to speed up the deployment of renewable energy sources, but also of energy efficiency solutions," explains Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at the economic think-tank Bruegel in Brussels.
Unless sustainable long-term solutions are found, Europe is in for frequent blackouts, experts have warned.
To forestall such a scenario, 10 EU states have asked the European Commission to add nuclear energy to the green sources of power on the continent, arguing that it is an "affordable, stable and independent energy source," whose increased deployment will benefit the continent.
"The rise of energy prices [has] shown how important is it to reduce our energy dependence on third countries as fast as possible," explained the 10 nations, which are France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania.
Some of these countries are already banking on nuclear by developing new power plants with the help of modern Russian technology.
However, except for France, which derives 70% of its domestically produced electricity from its nuclear power plants, no European nation currently relies primarily on nuclear energy. In all, only around 26% of electricity produced in the EU is generated by nuclear even as coal-fired plants remain dominant in several nations
At the same time, more than90% of natural gas used within the 27-member grouping is purchased from Russia and other outside producers, which exposes EU countries to significant volatility in energy prices.
"Supply tensions will be more and more frequent and we have no choice but to diversify our supply. We should pay attention not to increase our dependency on energy imports from outside Europe," wrote the 10 nations in support of nuclear power.
"While renewable energy sources play a key role for our energy transition, they cannot produce enough low-carbon electricity to meet our needs, at a sufficient and a constant level," they added, stressing that nuclear must be part of Europe's energy plans.
Yet not all EU members see eye to eye on nuclear. Germany is planning to shut down all its reactors by the end of next year in a blow to the prospect of Europe's energy independence and its promised transition to low-carbon economies.
Encouragingly for the proponents of nuclear energy, however, Brussels has given indications that it is viewing nuclear as a viable source of green and ample energy, a view shared by the International Energy Agency.
In another positive development for nuclear in Europe, the government of the United Kingdom is seeking to green the country's economy by incorporating nuclear power into the energy pie alongside a growing share of renewables.
"A constant base supply of nuclear power could continue to meet demand when renewable generation falters because the wind isn?t blowing and the Sun isn?t shining," explains William Nuttall, professor of energy at the Open University in the UK.
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Source: Sustainability Times