The letter calls for policies that allow for the construction of large reactors and small modular reactors, maintenance of the existing fleet and longer-term operation for existing plants.
It says a science-based environmental assessment is needed that delivers “a prompt resolution” of the nuclear energy position within the EU taxonomy.
The taxonomy will create a common language that investors can refer to when investing in projects and economic activities that have a substantial positive impact on the climate and the environment. It stipulates that a number of environmental objectives should be considered when evaluating how sustainable an economic activity is.
In March a European Commission technical expert group omitted nuclear energy from its recommendations on the taxonomy, saying it was unable to conclude that the industry’s value chain does not cause significant harm to other environmental objectives.
The “do no significant harm” principle aims to guarantee that energy technologies do no harm to other objectives, including the economy, or tackling issues like waste management, biodiversity, water systems and pollution.
The letter points out that the technical expert group recommended further analysis of nuclear’s position by qualified experts with appropriate scientific and technical knowledge. “This must take place in 2020 so that important investment is not delayed,” the letter said.
The letter, addressed to EU officials including European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and signed by nuclear companies and scientific organisations, said the nuclear sector is an important industrial sector in the EU and must be part of the new, coherent EU industrial strategy.
According to the latter 50% of the EU’s electricity mix is still based on historic CO2 emitting fossil fuel technologies and these must be replaced by new low-carbon sources as the EU moves to a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. At the same time, additional power capacity will be required to meet growing power demand.
“The investment challenge is huge and the European Commission’s strategic vision, ‘A Clean Planet for All’, explicitly recognises that nuclear, together with renewables, will form the backbone of the EU’s carbon-free power sector in 2050, the letter said.