The UK has positioned itself firmly at the forefront of Europe’s nuclear expansion as it hosted the signing of a joint communique between 12 EU member states with an interest in nuclear energy.
The 12 states set out their belief that nuclear energy can play a part of the EU’s future low carbon energy mix and committed to collaboration on safety and creating greater certainty for investors in low carbon infrastructure projects.
The signatories also agreed that member states should continue to be free to determine their own energy mixes, and to press ahead with their decarbonisation objectives through the deployment of the fullest possible range of low carbon technologies. This could include renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and nuclear power.
The agreement comes in the wake of nuclear power falling out of favour in Germany since the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
A pledge by the UK and France to work closely on research and development was underlined by a £12.5M funding commitment to the Jules Horowitz research reactor. The reactor, which will be operational by 2014, will act as a testbed for new nuclear technologies. UK-based academics and the nuclear industry will have guaranteed access to the reactor, which will encourage collaboration on safety and innovation.
“It’s vital for our economy that we work to make the EU a leading destination for investment in new low-carbon energy infrastructure,” said Edward Davey, secretary for Energy and Climate Change.
“This communiqué signals the start of a closer working relationship between member states on nuclear energy. By working together we will go some way to reducing the EU’s carbon emissions and ensuring greater energy security”.
minister of state for Energy, John Hayes highlighted the jobs potential of nuclear power to the UK: “nuclear power not only provides low carbon electricity, but thousands of skilled jobs too. We’ve been clear on its role in a UK energy mix and I’m pleased that a significant number of European nations have signalled the importance they attach to nuclear power.
“It’s vital that we cooperate on issues like safety and R&D. We are putting our money where our mouth is by confirming our contribution of £12.5m to the Jules Horowitz research reactor in France and guaranteeing the UK access rights to the project.”
Follow Harry Dalton on Twitter