April 14. 2024. 6:12

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Paris drafts European ‘nuclear alliance’

French energy transition minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher will meet on Tuesday (28 February) with twelve counterparts in Stockholm to discuss the potential launch of a brand new “nuclear alliance” within the EU.

Pannier-Runacher will be in Stockholm on Monday and Tuesday (27 and 28 February) for two days of informal talks with fellow EU energy and transport ministers.

On the agenda is the upcoming reform of the European electricity market, a debate on energy security ahead of next winter, as well as the bloc’s industrial competitiveness with regards to future energy policy.

In this context, France intends to bring up the question of nuclear energy.

According to the minister’s office, Pannier-Runacher is expected to bring together 12 of her counterparts in Stockholm on 28 February, as well as the European Commission, to discuss a “nuclear alliance” in Europe.

Alongside France, the twelve ministers joining Pannier-Runacher in Stockholm are from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.

A project that the French Minister calls for “with all her heart” to assert “the contribution of nuclear power to our climate objectives and to energy security in Europe”, according to the terms used by Pannier-Runacher’s staff.

For the time being, the ministry has not given any details about the content of this alliance. A joint declaration is said to be under consideration but was not yet confirmed on Sunday.

Nevertheless, the message is clear: “to send a strong signal in the various European talks”.

EXCLUSIVE: France urges Brussels to label nuclear-produced hydrogen ‘green’

French Energy Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher is trying to get EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson to include nuclear among energy sources for the production of so-called “green” hydrogen, according to a letter seen by EURACTIV France.

French lobbying

In its endeavour, Paris hopes to build on the latest victories of nuclear advocates.

Indeed, on 9 February, the European Parliament’s energy committee officially recognised nuclear-generated hydrogen as a low-carbon energy source.

The next day (10 February), EURACTIV revealed that France and pro-atomic countries had obtained that nuclear-generated hydrogen could be exempted from so-called “additionality” rules on renewable hydrogen manufacturing, as long as its production “is located in a bidding zone where the electricity emission intensity is below 18 gCO2eq/MJ”.

This is clearly the case in France, where the entire electricity grid is low-carbon thanks to nuclear power.

Following this, the French energy transition ministry called for more “coherence” in future texts on hydrogen, particularly within the Renewable Energy Directive (RED3) currently being negotiated in Brussels.

“We must now apply this logic to our renewable hydrogen objectives in the RED3 directive,” Pannier-Runacher said.

Earlier, the energy minister’s office had deemed “interesting, smart and reasonable” the proposal made by Pascal Canfin, the chairman of the Parliament’s environment committee, to introduce a low-carbon “weighting” for renewable energy targets included in the RED3 directive.

Finally, French centrist lawmaker Christophe Grudler mentioned on 16 February a meeting in Brussels bringing together some twenty MEPs around Pannier-Runacher to discuss the contribution of nuclear power to the EU’s decarbonisation objectives.

Thus, France is taking advantage of its latest victories at EU level to highlight the “contribution of nuclear power to our climate objectives and to energy security in Europe”, said the Minister’s office.

Key French MEP pitches low-carbon ‘weighting’ for EU renewables target

France could back an EU-wide target of 45% for renewable energies if the objectives assigned to each member state are weighted according to the carbon intensity of their electricity mix, according to Pascal Canfin, the chairman of the European Parliament’s environment committee.