April 1. 2023. 4:22

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EU’s Net-Zero Industry Act sends ‘positive signal’ for nuclear, advocates say

After a series of twists and turns, the European Commission finally decided to include nuclear power in its proposed Net-Zero Industry Act – a “positive political signal” for nuclear advocates even if they remain wary about the detail of the text.

On Thursday (16 March), the European Commission unveiled its proposal for a Net-Zero Industry Act, setting out an EU target of domestically producing at least 40% of the technology needed to achieve the bloc’s climate and energy targets by 2030.

In addition to other policy initiatives, the proposed regulation “is part of the European response to the IRA” – the US Inflation Reduction Act – according to EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who spoke at a press conference introducing the proposal on Thursday.

With a view to reinvigorating EU industry, the text lists eight “technologies that will make a significant contribution to decarbonisation” and are eligible for support.

These includes solar, wind, batteries and storage, as well as heat pumps, and nuclear.

“And yes, we have been able to converge on the need to cover nuclear in this proposal. Because it is time to go beyond ideologies”, Breton added.

EU’s Net-Zero Industry Act aims to bring home clean tech production

The European Commission tabled its net-zero industry act on Thursday (16 March), setting a goal for the EU to domestically produce at least 40% of the technology it needs to achieve its climate and energy targets by 2030.

Nuclear half-in

France has already welcomed the inclusion of nuclear even if its addition happened at the last minute after a nail-biting scenario.

When the document was first leaked to the press, nuclear was high on the list. But in the days that followed, doubts gradually crept in.

The Commissioners ultimately reached a compromise to include “advanced technologies to produce energy from nuclear processes with minimal waste from the fuel cycle, small modular reactors” are part of the list of technologies making a “significant contribution to decarbonisation”.

However, this also means that existing nuclear technologies, such as the French second-generation pressurised water reactors that France wishes to develop, are excluded from the text.

And crucially, nuclear doesn’t appear in a separate annex to the regulation, which defines “Strategic Net-Zero technologies” that “will be receive particular support” and are subject to the 40% domestic production benchmark.

Nuclear is in the definition of ‘net-zero technologies’ (art 3) : « advanced technologies to produce energy from nuclear processes with minimal waste from the fuel cycle, SMR, and related best-in-class fuels » . BUT is is not in the annex listing « strategic » technologies. https://t.co/i771pgkwyy pic.twitter.com/p51aOcX6ey

— Anna Hubert

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