Nuclear row threatens EU deal on renewable energy goals

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European Union countries are split over whether to allow nuclear energy to contribute to meeting their renewable energy targets, a dispute threatening to delay one of the EU’s main climate policies.

Negotiators from EU countries and the European Parliament hold their final scheduled round of negotiations on Wednesday, to set more ambitious EU goals to expand renewable energy this decade.

The goals are key to Europe’s efforts to slash CO2 emissions by 2030 and quit Russian fossil fuels. But the negotiations have become mired in a dispute over whether fuels produced using nuclear power should be counted towards the renewable targets.

France is leading a campaign for “low-carbon hydrogen” – the term used to describe hydrogen produced from nuclear energy – to be put on an equal footing with hydrogen made from renewable electricity.

Backing France are countries including Romania, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, who want more recognition of CO2-free nuclear energy’s contribution to climate goals.

Germany, Spain, Denmark, Portugal and Luxembourg are among the countries opposed. They say mixing nuclear into the renewable targets would distract from Europe’s need to massively expand wind and solar.

At a meeting of EU countries’ ambassadors on Friday, countries doubled down on their existing positions, EU officials said – leaving some doubtful that Wednesday’s negotiations will succeed in finishing the law.

EU countries’ ambassadors were meeting again on Monday to attempt to unblock the talks.

Countries are also at odds over other parts of the law, including which types of wood fuel can count as renewable energy.

France, one of the most nuclear-powered countries in the world, has a particular stake in whether nuclear power is credited under the targets, given its plans to build new reactors and upgrade its large existing fleet.

French energy minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher will convene a meeting of pro-nuclear countries’ ministers on Tuesday to discuss the issue, a French ministry source said.

Paris has been disappointed by other recent EU moves to prioritise renewable technologies over nuclear.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week said “cutting-edge nuclear” projects would be granted access to only some EU incentives to support green industries, while “strategic” technologies like solar panels would be granted the full benefits.
via Reuters

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