Mr Lévy said the contribution of nuclear power in tackling global warming has been recognised by authoritative organisations like the International Energy Agency and the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control).
“To put it plainly, we need nuclear,” he said and added: “For France, analysis shows that a successful pathway to carbon neutrality in 2050, while maintaining security of supply, avoiding hazardous technological choices, and containing costs, requires a robust share of nuclear capacity.”
Asked about the European Union’s green financing taxonomy, Mr Lévy said the “authoritative report” of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) “unambiguously” confirmed the positive contribution of nuclear to the objectives set out in the taxonomy, a package of regulations that would guide investment in activities that the EU says are environmentally friendly.
Establishing clear green criteria for investors is key to raising more public and private funding so that the EU can become carbon neutral by 2050 and to prevent “greenwashing” – the process of providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.
The JRC, the EC’s scientific expert arm, was asked to assess whether the EU should label nuclear power as a green investment. It concluded in April that nuclear fuel qualified as sustainable and does no more harm to human health or to the environment than other electricity production sources already included in the bloc’s taxonomy.
“I hope that we will soon see a positive proposal from the Commission,” Mr Lévy said.
“For more than fifty years, the European nuclear industry has proved that it is reliable and that nuclear installations are safe for man and the environment.”
According to Mr Lévy, small modular reactors (SMR) are a “very promising” new technology and are complementary to large conventional reactors. SMR could be installed closer to final demand because of their small size, simpler and modular design, and a strong standardisation that allows scaling effects, he said.
Mr Lévy said EDF wants to involve the European nuclear supply chain in its Nuward SMR project, being jointly developed with France’s CEA, Naval Group, and TechnicAtome since 2019.
Mr Lévy also called on policymakers to help the development of zero-carbon technologies by allowing support mechanisms which give long-term signals needed to reduce capital costs and trigger investment decisions.
In response to a question about the potential revamp of the EU’s competition and state support rules, he said: “Achieving climate neutrality is the compass that must guide our industrial and economic choices. The competition objective is a means to an end.”
*The full version of the interview is available on Politico’s webpage.