The European Union will need to continue having a nuclear energy share of at least one-quarter until 2050 to meet the emissions reduction targets it has set for that year, according to a new report from Deloitte.
The EU has set targets of reducing emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels, and by up to 95% by 2050 – or net zero. An essential part of that plan will be phasing out the burning of coal, the highest-emitting fossil fuel which is still used heavily in countries such as Poland and Germany.
Countries such as France which have heavy use of nuclear power are getting a head start in the emissions reduction race, in which each EU member state will have to meet with their own adapted targets. With a share of 40%, nuclear provides the largest contribution to France’s energy mix.
Nuclear power is not a fossil fuel and therefore emits very little in the way of carbon emissions. However safety concerns have resulted in its steady phase-out in Europe, first in the United Kingdom and now in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a decision to phase out nuclear power in her country following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. But this has resulted in an increased use of coal and a resultant rise in Germany’s emissions, despite its heavy use of renewable energy.
“If Europe is serious about decarbonising its economy by 2050, then one quarter of the electricity produced in the EU will need to continue to come from nuclear,” said Yves Desbazeille, the director-general of European nuclear energy association FORATOM, which commissioned the study. “Not only will this enable the EU to achieve its carbon-free targets, whilst at the same time ensuring it has access to the energy it needs when it needs it, it will also provide a significant contribution in terms of economic growth and job creation.”