European Nuclear Alliance envisions 150 GW of installed capacity by 2050

Invited to Paris, the European Nuclear Alliance brought together 16 member countries and the European Commissioner for Energy. The participants set ambitious targets for deploying power reactors and SMRs in Europe. They also called on the European Union to recognize the role of nuclear power in decarbonizing the energy mix of European nations.

On Tuesday, May 16, the French Minister of Energy convened a meeting of the European Nuclear Coalition in Paris. This is only the third time this initiative has been met. The first meeting occurred on February 28 on the margins of the informal Energy Council in Stockholm, and the second on March 28 on the margins of the Energy Council in Brussels. This time, the ministers and state representatives met “especially” for the occasion and devoted a whole morning. “This marks a turning point, a new stage, a concretization of this group and a confirmation of the importance and interest of our partners in this group,” said the office of the Minister.

In the final communiqué of this meeting, the signatory countries set an ambitious goal of developing a nuclear power plant of 150 GW in Europe, compared to approximately 100 GW today (including 60 GW in France). This would involve “the construction of 30 to 45 new large reactors and the development of small modular reactors (SMRs),” the communiqué states. With this objective in mind, the Alliance also anticipates the need for training and skills. It estimates that “more than 300,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by 2050, including 200,000 skilled jobs and 450,000 new hires by 2050. As a reminder, France, for its part, has envisaged 100,000 recruitments necessary in ten years.

A growing number of countries are taking up these strong messages. The first meeting had 11 participants, and the second had 12. This time, 16 participants (and signatories of the final communiqué) came to the French capital. Namely, the representatives of Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Slovakia, Italy, United Kingdom. Italy, which has not yet decided to revive nuclear power, was present as an observer. The United Kingdom, although not a member of the European Union, was a special guest because of its extensive nuclear plan, including the ongoing construction of two EPRs at Hinkley Point.

Message to the European Commission

Also present at the table was the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simpson. Although the Commission does not officially support the Alliance, it is a strong sign, as Kadri Simson delivered the day’s opening remarks. “It is also a way for the Member States present to draw the attention of the European Commission to the importance of the proper consideration of nuclear energy in the development of European texts, the consideration and development of European policies on energy, “explains the office of the Minister.

In the final communiqué, the Alliance invites the Commission “to recognize nuclear energy in the energy strategy and relevant policies of the EU, in particular by proposing relevant initiatives and recognizing the efforts and commitment of Member States to decarbonize their energy mix through nuclear energy, alongside all other non-fossil energy sources, as part of the transition to climate neutrality.

Thus the Alliance calls for “the inclusion of nuclear energy in the European energy strategy”. In particular, the members ask to “promote better conditions for the development and deployment of new nuclear capacity in the EU, including better access to financing”.

A future meeting is already scheduled. It should take place in the margins of the next Energy Council on June 19 in Luxembourg. ■

By Ludovic Dupin (Sfen)

Photo: Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of Energy Transition, gathers her counterparts from the Nuclear Alliance member countries and Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, at the Ministry of Energy Transition for a meeting on the importance of nuclear power to accelerate decarbonization in Europe. – @ StéphaneMouchmouche/Hans LucasHans Lucas via AFP