Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, has stressed the importance of nuclear energy for the EU’s green transition.
He told the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche that nuclear power will play a “fundamental role” in the move away from fossil fuels, according to DW reporting on Sunday.
In the interview, he pointed out that the EU will have to invest some 500 billion euro in new nuclear power plants by 2050.
“Existing nuclear plants alone will need 50 billion euro of investment from now until 2030″, while the new generation of plants “will need 500 billion”, he said, noting that the bloc will need to invest roughly 20 billion euro annually in nuclear facilities.
Breton’s comments come at a time when the EU is divided over the EC’s proposed green investment rules, which label some natural gas and nuclear projects as green. A minority of member states are against the proposal, citing fears about safety.
Breton pointed out that nuclear energy accounts for roughly 26% of the electricity generation in the EU, a figure he predicted would fall to about 15% by 2050.
Demand expected to grow
“To achieve carbon neutrality, we really have to step up our production of carbon-free electricity in Europe, especially considering that the demand for electricity is going to double in 30 years”, he declared.
Turning to the EU member states that are critical of nuclear energy, Breton stated that decisions on sourcing are “the sole responsibility of the states.” He reiterated that the bloc will have to expand its nuclear power generation capacities to meet the rising demand for carbon-free electricity.
“Joint responsibility has to focus on the means to be deployed throughout the European Union to meet the collective goal set by all member states: net-zero by 2050,” he asserted.
The EC recently proposed classifying investment projects in order to steer the private sector towards environmentally-friendly investments as part of its green push.Critics are unhappy about classifying nuclear and some natural gas projects as green, while proponents point out that such projects should adhere to strict rules.