Pro-Nuclear Nations Rally for Industry Revival at Brussels Summit

Pro-nuclear European nations and energy experts called for a revival of nuclear power at a summit in Brussels on Thursday. The push comes as countries seek to meet ambitious climate goals.

“Without nuclear power, we have no chance to reach our climate targets on time,” warned International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol ahead of the Nuclear Energy Summit. The low-carbon energy source has drawn renewed interest as Europe strives to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and reduce reliance on Russian gas following the Ukraine invasion.

However, a divide remains among EU members. France leads a pro-nuclear camp arguing expansion is crucial, while Austria and Germany prioritize renewable sources like wind and solar over safety concerns stemming from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima accident.

Related: World’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant Could Soon Restart Operations

In a joint statement, the nations committed “to work to fully unlock the potential of nuclear energy” by facilitating the extension of existing reactors, constructing new plants, and deploying advanced reactor technologies.

Financing emerged as a key hurdle. “We still have an architecture that forbids financing nuclear projects,” said IAEA’s director general Rafael Grossi, advocating a level playing field with other energy investments. He expressed optimism that recent climate talks could facilitate funding.

Belgian PM Alexander De Croo proposed involving the European Investment Bank, stating “There is no lack of private financing…what lacks is the right circumstances.” He also urged disconnecting European nuclear supply chains from Russia while balancing operational needs.

The United States is also seeking a nuclear resurgence. “We’re supporting eliminating restrictions on funding nuclear,” said President Biden’s clean energy advisor John Podesta, citing recent Congressional approval of enrichment program funds.

However, the gathering was not without its critics. Environmental groups like Greenpeace protested outside, asserting that nuclear power is too slow, expensive, and risky compared to renewable alternatives like wind and solar. They called for a greater focus on energy efficiency, public transportation, and home insulation.

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