PRAGUE – The European Union said on Tuesday it will need to invest between 350-450 billion euros ($393-$505 billion) through 2050 in order to maintain its current level of electric capacity generated from nuclear plants, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy told EFE in Prague.
This annual event, organized by the Czech and Slovak governments, is where some 300 experts, both for and against nuclear energy, debate their respective viewpoints.
The commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, spoke during the 12th plenary meeting of the European Nuclear Energy Forum in Prague, which is outlining what steps the EU and national governments must follow to ensure the safe operation of nuclear power plants in Europe and treatment of radioactive waste.
There are currently 129 nuclear power plants in 14 EU member countries with a combined output of 120 GWe although these facilities have been in operation for around 30 years.
Due to their age and unless they are extensively upgraded, “90% of these reactors will shut down by 2030,” said Arias Cañete.
Regardless of the criticism atomic energy may generate, Arias Cañete assured that nuclear energy in the EU “is not dead” as there are currently plans to build nuclear power plants in 10 countries.
There are four reactors currently under construction in Finland, France, and Slovakia, while a further three reactors are currently seeking their operational license in Finland, Hungary and the United Kingdom.
A further five are under development in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Rumania.
Article 194 of the EU treaty establishes the choice between different energy sources and the general structure of a country’s energy supply is purely a “sovereign decision” taken by each member state, Arias Cañete said.
Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), the Spanish politician said this treaty had “guaranteed nuclear safety.”
However, the UK will abandon the EU in March 2019, the EU commissioner also pointed out.
“Until the treaties become no longer applicable to the UK in 2019, this country remains a member of the EU and Euratom, with the same rights and responsibilities as any other EU member state,” Arias Cañete said.
Regarding the UK leaving Euratom, the EU commissioner said it was still too early to say what the future Euratom-UK relationship would be.