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Czech Republic’s nuclear plan hangs on hope for European Commission to call nuclear ”green”

The EU’s Nuclear Showdown Comes to a Head in Czechia, World Politics Review, Tim Gosling Friday, April 30, 2021 A fight over nuclear power is heating up in the European Union. While the Czech Republic and other Central and Eastern European states insist that the technology is vital to their transition from coal-generated energy, others in the bloc want to cut it out of the equation. The outcome of the debate could also help determine the fate of a stalled tender to build a new reactor at Dukovany, one of the country’s two existing nuclear power plants.

[Nuclear] Hopes in Prague were boosted in March when the Joint Research Center, an expert group for the European Commission, delivered a report stating that nuclear power qualifies as a “sustainable” source of energy………

However, the commission was quick to state that the Joint Research Center’s opinion is far from the final word, indicating that the tussle would continue. And indeed, on April 21, when the commission finally published its first list of sustainable energy sources—known as the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities in Brussels’ policymaking circles—nuclear power was not included. Some member states, as well as lawmakers in the European Parliament, had threatened to veto an earlier draft that included nuclear and gas-powered energy.

But that’s still not the end of the story. Referring to “a delicate compromise on whether or not to include nuclear energy,” the EU executive said it would make a final decision based on further expert opinions. That could be presented in June, said Vladis Dombrovskis, the European Commission vice-president in charge of the economy.

That gives the nuclear lobby two months to push its side of the debate……

Germany will switch off its last nuclear plant next year, as part of a phased drawdown adopted in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. But Berlin’s anti-nuclear drive isn’t limited to its own reactor fleet. Environment Minister Svenja Schulze pledged in March that the country plans to quash nuclear power globally, with a particular focus on its neighborhood.

“Nuclear power is neither safe nor clean,” she said at the time, as she unveiled a 12-point plan that argues the technology cannot be considered part of any solution to the climate crisis. “The future is for renewable energy.”

……….. in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the challenges and costs of building new nuclear reactors have risen dramatically, and that’s what makes the EU classification key. Classification as “sustainable” would significantly lower the cost of financing for private investors, according to industry lobbyist Foratom.

Such a classification is also crucial to staying on the right side of the EU’s competition regulations, as it’s now all but impossible to build new nuclear reactors without state aid.

“The Czech government does not hope to use EU funds to build new nuclear reactors,” says Vit Havelka of the Prague-based think tank Europeum. “They’re worried that Brussels will block [the provision of] state aid, which would make it economically unfeasible.”…….

critics contend that the alternatives haven’t been properly researched. Global consultancy Deloitte suggests that renewables could deliver the same capacity of new energy generation as Dukovany 2—which is optimistically earmarked for completion in 2038—more quickly and less expensively, helping to modernize the energy sector and support the economy along the way. According to another study, it is the focus on nuclear that is helping to keep renewable power-generation underutilized.

Jiri Jerabek from Greenpeace says in an interview that the Czech government has “no proper support schemes for most types of renewables.” Moreover, its target to raise the share of renewables in its energy mix from around 16.2 percent in 2019 to 22 percent by 2030 is well below the EU’s goal of 32 percent, earning it reprimands from the European Commission……..

May 1, 2021 - Posted by | EUROPE, politics international

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