Although it has been a month since seven heads of government wrote letters to the leaders of the European Union to accept and support nuclear energy, the importance of the subject has not faded. Moreover, as time goes on, it will become clear that the objectives of Brussels, as in many cases, are unattainable and the use of nuclear energy will be on the agenda again and again.
The seven heads of government (Babiš, Cîțu, Janša, Macron, Matovič, Morawiecki, Orbán), after paying homage to the Union’s ambitious but clearly unattainable climate targets (55 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 versus 1990, climate neutrality by 2050), drew the attention of Brussels’ leaders to the fact that the use of nuclear energy is essential to achieving their climate goals.
In total, 13 of the current 27 countries in the Union have nuclear power plants; Poland has decided to build a nuclear power plant as well, and a majority of members are interested in maintaining and possibly further developing nuclear power plants. In the EU as a whole (EU27), the share of nuclear power in electricity generation has fallen from 31 percent in the early 1990s to 25 percent today, clearly as a result of the German Energiewende (energy transition), which closed most nuclear power plants and seeks to shut down all nuclear power plants by 2022.
In the other countries, nuclear power generation has remained essentially unchanged over the past three decades, and several countries, including Hungary, Finland, Romania and Poland, have begun building new nuclear power plants. There are currently 54 nuclear power plants under construction in the world, eight of which are in China, seven in India and four in Russia. Only four are in Western countries, two of them in the United States, one in France and one in the United Kingdom.
The numbers show well (especially if the nuclear power plants under construction are plotted on a map) that the West — due to Western anti-nuclear movements — has lagged far behind in this area — not only in the construction but also in the development of nuclear power plants. The main reason for this is the stiff opposition of Greens to nuclear energy.
Greens may eventually yield and, if not support, at least allow the construction of new nuclear power plants, as the seven are asking, but they will certainly impose safety requirements that will be virtually impossible to meet.
This is clearly an ideological issue in which common sense has no particular role. The only effective method, in my view, could be to somehow convince the public that climate neutrality (which Greens have already convinced a wide section of society is needed) can only be achieved with nuclear power plants. A huge media campaign in favor of nuclear plants would be required to at least partially neutralize the many decades of counter-campaigns that Greens have been pursuing.
Title image: One reactor of the Paks nuclear plant in Hungary. (source: atomeromu.hu)