Priority must be given to investing in the development of technologies which will help the EU achieve its decarbonisation goals. These include both existing and innovative nuclear technologies, the Brussels-based industry group said.
“If the EU is serious about decarbonising its economy by 2050, then more EU funding should be allocated to R&I in low-carbon nuclear as this will help the EU achieve its goal,” said Foratom director-general Yves Desbazeille.
“The Euratom Research and Training and Horizon Europe programmes should support the development of nuclear R&I as not only will this help the EU decarbonise its power sector, but it will also increase the bloc’s energy security by reducing dependence on energy imports”.
Several international organisations have highlighted the role nuclear energy has to play in the fight against climate change, Foratom said. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said nuclear power is essential if the world is to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The International Energy Agency said a steep decline in nuclear power would threaten energy security and climate goals and the European commission’s recent 2050 ‘Clean Planet for All’ policy paper recognised that nuclear, together with renewables, will form the backbone of a 2050 carbon-free Europe.
In addition, the EU’s Energy Union strategy says “the EU should ensure it maintains technological leadership in the nuclear domain… so as not to increase energy and technology dependence”.
Foratom said this poses a serious challenge because the EU is lagging behind other global players such as China, Russia and the US as far as the level of investment in nuclear research and innovation is concerned.
Foratom said the EU’s new flagship R&I programme – which includes Horizon Europe, InvestEU and the Euratom R&T programmes – has a proposed budget of €100bn for 2021-2027.
The budget for the Horizon Europe part of the programme, which succeeds Horizon 2020, is 25% higher than the current Horizon 2020 budget, potentially attaining nearly €120bn by the time it is finally agreed.
One of the aims of Horizon Europe is to identify key areas for research and innovation, European partnerships and areas of international cooperation. It covers five areas: climate change, cancer, healthy oceans, climate-neutral and smart cities and food and soil health.