Currently France has 56 nuclear reactors in operation. Only the United States has more, 92, and behind and on its heels China accelerates, with 54. These figures have been collected by the Statista consultancy. Of course, we must not overlook the fact that both the United States and China are countries that are much more populous than France. Be that as it may, it is evident that the French bet on nuclear energy is very solid, and they are determined to protect their strategy.
In the midst of a debate about the role that this form of energy should play in the future European energy model, the worst thing that could happen to France is that nuclear is no longer considered green energy by Europe. The European Parliament approved at the beginning of July 2022 the inclusion of nuclear and natural gas in the “green energy” package, and it did so with one purpose: to pave the way for the Old Continent towards the total elimination of greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 in 2050.
However, this measure is much more than a mere bureaucratic formality. The energy sources to which the green label is attached have the financial backing of the European Union, and France is not willing to do without this support. However, This treatment has an expiration date.. The European Commission has agreed that in 2030 natural gas will no longer be included in the green energy package, and in 2040 nuclear energy will suffer the same fate. Meanwhile both will be considered “transition activities.”
Europe is divided: these are the ten allies and the arguments of France
Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, is wasting no time. It is clear that its commitment to nuclear energy will weaken the moment it ceases to have the approval of the European Union as a whole, and the most effective way to avoid this is none other than to recruit allies who are willing to develop and invest in its own nuclear power infrastructure. Ultimately, France needs other countries to be willing to follow its path. And for now it’s not bad. In fact, it already has the commitment of ten allies.
Macron defends the role of nuclear in the manufacture of hydrogen as one of the measures that can help Europe meet its environmental commitments
Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia have joined France in their crusade for the development and strengthening of nuclear energy in Europe. Macron and his allies oppose this form of energy be discriminated again. Distrust towards nuclear power was born in Europe in 1986 as a result of the Chernobyl disaster (Ukraine), and the accident that took place in Fukushima (Japan) in 2011 gave rise to a distrust that has permeated very deeply among critics of nuclear energy. .
At this juncture, France and the countries that support its energy model cling to powerful arguments to prevent the decline of nuclear power in Europe. On average, this form of energy represents approximately 70% of electricity generation in France, a figure that supports the impact it can have on an energy model that is so close to it. Macron also argues that nuclear does not entail the emission of greenhouse gases, and defends the key role it can play in the manufacture of hydrogen as one of the measures that can help Europe meet its environmental commitments.
However, nuclear power has another important asset in its favor that is becoming more relevant as the conflict between the West and Russia intensifies: Europe needs to make its energy independence viable. In any case, there are several countries that remain at the antipodes of France in this area. Germany and Spain lead the European movement that fights the equalization of nuclear and renewablesand for the moment there are no signs that invite us to accept that their position will change in the short term.
The arguments that have led these latter countries to carry out the scheduled disconnection and decommissioning of their nuclear power plants are well known, but the most relevant are their cost, the challenges involved in managing radioactive waste and the mistrust in your security policy. It is clear that the positions held by France and its allies on the one hand, and Germany and Spain on the other, are difficult to reconcile. And right now more than ever there is no doubt that Europe needs to stick together.
Top image: President of Ukraine | Schölla Schwarz
More information: NucNet