Nuclear energy and natural gas have been added to the European Commission’s sustainable finance taxonomy. The EU’s executive arm submitted a draft for low-carbon, green investments and handed it to member states for review after months of debate and political pressure. The publication is a guide to defining sustainable economic activity within the European Green Deal framework.
If the plan for a nuclear energy taxonomy remains unchanged, Austria will file a lawsuit against the European Commission. The European Green Party is thinking about doing the same thing. It’s improbable that 20 of the EU’s 27 member states would vote against the plan, which would be required to reject it.
The green taxonomy is a set of guidelines for energy project investment. The commission wants to make it as easy as possible to migrate to renewables, but it is willing to tolerate gas and nuclear power projects in the interim. Its top executives argue that the approach will avoid greenwashing, which occurs when businesses or governments advertise environmentally destructive initiatives as sustainable.
Nuclear power plants that use cutting-edge technology and adhere to tight waste disposal regulations are the only ones that can be labelled as green as per the guidelines.
Financing can only be considered for gas power plants that meet the highest standards. The cap on carbon dioxide emissions is set at 100 grammes per kilowatt-hour of energy produced.
The draft plan was made public on December 31, and governments have until January 12 to respond. The commissioners expect the final version to be approved by the end of January, with the rulebook taking effect in 2023.
Months of political infighting preceded the commission’s proposal, with many member states holding conflicting viewpoints. Some say that they need to invest in gas to get off of coal sooner. Others argue that a green label for fossil fuel would jeopardize the EU’s standing as a worldwide leader in the battle against climate change.
The Austrian government declared a lawsuit against the European Commission over nuclear permission, and the European Greens are mulling similar action. The text has triggered new debates inside the European Union.
The German Greens, like their Austrian counterparts, took a similar position, particularly due to concerns about the repercussions of nuclear waste disposal. Three of Germany’s six remaining nuclear power facilities were shut down last week.
The energy mix differs by country, and each member can choose their own version, according to the commission. It went on to say that the taxonomy is a compromise and that it would be used to drive energy investments toward the EU’s aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The Czech Republic favours nuclear power, but its administration is concerned about stringent standards, claiming that they will complicate the overall energy sector’s change. Other EU member nations were urged to cooperate and alter the document’s requirements, according to the country.
By 2036, a new nuclear power plant will be built in Dukovany to replace the old one, which will be decommissioned, and there are also plans to expand the existing Temelin facility. EZ Group is in charge of both. Its Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Bene, stated that the EU should be explicit with regard to nuclear power plant owners’ timetables, especially as this could affect district heating decarbonization.
The Czech energy sector however believes that the European Commission feels that nuclear energy is only sustainable for a limited time.
By January 2026, at least 30% of gas must come from renewable or low-carbon sources, and fossil gas must be totally replaced by 2035.
Nuclear energy should be included in the EU’s green taxonomy, according to a group of countries led by France and Poland. The proposal included Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, and the Czech Republic, as well as Belgium, Sweden, Estonia, and the Netherlands.
Cyprus, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Romania, and Malta are all fighting for gas energy projects to be included in the EU taxonomy at the same time. Support for both fossil gas and nuclear power is openly rejected by Austria, Luxembourg, and Denmark.
Serbia plans to make a decision this year on the potential of building small nuclear power plants with modular reactors. Serbia is to adopt a new energy development strategy this year.