Thursday, February 2

Europe proposes to consider nuclear and natural gas as “green energy” to achieve its goal of zero polluting emissions by 2050

They had been left out of the changes applied in the regulation in spring, but they have sneaked – intense debate through – into the draft that closes 2021. The European Commission will propose that natural gas and nuclear can be included in its list of “energies green”. Practically coinciding with the twelve chimes that start the new year, the body chaired by Ursula von der Leyen has launched its proposal for modify the classification of energies that are considered sustainable from an environmental point of view.

The document does not respond to a mere community formality. Its application may, in fact, affect financing. The objective of Brussels is to serve as a guide to orient investment towards projects in the energy sector and, as an ultimate goal, achieve the target set in the EU Green Deal: achieve neutrality from a climate point of view, reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero over the next three decades, looking to 2050.

A way to attract financing

For that purpose the document modifies the taxonomy of the so-called green energies and introduces both nuclear and natural gas, which appear in the second category, which includes energy with low carbon emissions that currently lack a sustainable alternative.

The EC proposal must still advance in its processing phase before obtaining the go-ahead and submitting it to the Council for deliberation. For now, the process promises marked by controversy. German Vice Chancellor and Minister for the Economy and Climate Protection, Robert Habeck, has already crossed out “error” that nuclear is “labeled as sustainable” and alert to your “high risk”. In Spain, the Minister of Labor and Second Vice President, Yolanda Díaz, joined the criticism in the last hours through your Twitter profile: “Europe still has the opportunity to reconsider this decision to avoid moving away from scientific evidence and social demand.”

At the opposite pole is, for example, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, the Frenchman Thierry Breton, who during an interview with The country He insisted on the crucial role of nuclear energy in achieving the environmental sustainability goals set by the European Union itself. “Anyone who says we can get meet the Green Deal targets by 2050 without nuclear power, you are not seeing the truth because the numbers are there ”. Also the Italian Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, has been against demonizing her.

The proposal launched by the EC proposes granting the “green” label to those projects that contribute to decarbonization and emit up to 270 grams of CO2 per kv / h. At least that’s how the draft details it consulted by Bloomberg. In the case of nuclear power, projects could be considered “sustainable” as long as the new plants obtain permits before 2045 and meet certain requirements. “The commission believes that natural gas and nuclear can play a role in facilitating the transition to a predominantly renewables-based future.”

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If the necessary support is obtained and the EC proposal goes ahead, there would be projects based on natural gas and nuclear energy that could receive “green” investments. To achieve this, of course, they must meet a series of requirements: have a plan, funds and a space for the disposal of radioactive waste in a safe way. To be considered green, new plants will also need to adhere to a schedule – your building permit will need to be issued over the next two decades, before 2045.

Investments in gas power plants would be considered “green” as long as they follow the guideline that their emissions are less than 270 g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (kWh) and a series of criteria: replace a more polluting fossil fuel plant and receive a construction permit that, if applicable, must be earlier than the end of 2030. Like nuclear energy, it would be considered a “transitional” activity.

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Ten months ago, in April 2021, the EC has already applied some modifications to the EU regulation that establishes a classification in climatic matters and the financing criteria. The authorities then chose to exclude both gas and nuclear energy from the list. His new decision, revealed in extremis, at the end of 2022, comes after an intense debate in Europe marked both by the detractors of both energies and by states in favor of including them in the classification.

Images | Gretchen Mahan (Flickr) Y Jeanne Menjoulet (Flickr)