Nuclear dispute jeopardizes EU agreement on renewable energy targets

A debate that threatens to stall one of the EU’s primary climate initiatives is whether or not to allow nuclear energy to contribute to fulfilling renewable energy targets. On Wednesday, negotiators from the EU’s member states and the European Parliament will hold their final scheduled round of talks to establish more challenging EU targets for the expansion of renewable energy in this decade. The objectives are crucial to Europe’s efforts to stop using Russian fossil resources and reduce CO2 emissions by 2030. However, a disagreement over whether or not fuels produced by nuclear power should be included in the renewable fuel targets has stalled the negotiations.

In order to place hydrogen produced from nuclear energy on an even playing field with hydrogen produced from renewable electricity, France is leading a drive known as “low-carbon hydrogen.” Countries like Romania, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic support France and call for more acknowledgement of the role that CO2-free nuclear energy plays in achieving global warming targets. German, Spanish, Danish, Portuguese, and Luxembourg are a few of the opponents. They contend that include nuclear in the renewable energy goals would divert attention from the need for Europe to significantly increase wind and solar power.

According to EU authorities, at a conference of ambassadors on Friday, countries strengthened their stances, making some skeptics of Wednesday’s negotiations for passing the law. On Monday, ambassadors from EU nations gathered once more to try to restart the negotiations. Governments disagree on other aspects of the law as well, such as what kinds of wood fuel qualify as renewable energy. Given its intentions to construct new reactors and upgrade its sizable existing fleet, France, one of the nations with the highest nuclear power levels in the world, has a special interest in whether nuclear power is granted credit under the objectives. According to a French ministry source, the topic will be discussed at a conference of ministers from nations that support nuclear power on Tuesday.

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