19 Feb (NucNet): Ministers responsible for energy in eight EU member states have written to the European Commission asking for a forthcoming action plan on EU energy policy to include nuclear power alongside other low-carbon technologies.
The ministers of Romania, France, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the UK urged the EC to ensure that the Communication on Energy Union, due to be published on 25 February 2015, includes “a package of initiatives to develop a supportive EU framework for safe and sustainable nuclear power”.
According to the eight ministers, the package of initiatives should include a commitment from the EC to explore the possibility of applying European financing mechanisms for large infrastructure projects to nuclear projects.
European financing for nuclear projects is necessary to address the failure of the market to independently source the requisite start-up capital for nuclear projects, the letter says.
In October 2014, when it approved the UK government’s financial involvement in the Hinkley Point C nuclear project, the EC concluded there was a failure of the market to supply capital for the construction of new nuclear power stations without state aid.
The ministers’ letter also says European financing is needed to “reduce financing costs by increasing the economic predictability for long-term investments”.
In the Hinkley Point C decision, the EC concluded that nuclear power suffers more than other energy sources due to its “longer time horizon and greater investment size”.
The eight ministers also ask the EC to bring forward “clear guidance” to act as an initial reference point for those considering nuclear energy.
The guidance should be included in the EC’s ‘Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy 2014-2020’, which are due for revision in 2019. The revised guidelines should take into account existing state aid decisions on nuclear, the letter says.
The ministers also asked for the EC provide “unequivocal recognition” of the existing right of member states to develop nuclear energy if they wish to do so.
The letter asks the EC to set up a comprehensive package for research and innovation to help strengthen skills, technology and nuclear safety and decommissioning capabilities in Europe. “Research and innovation in both fission and fusion generation could prove instrumental in contributing to the European Union’s technology-driven low-carbon future,” the letter says.
The letter was sent to the EC by Andrei Gerea, Romania’s minister of energy, on behalf of the eight member states.