To Germany’s chagrin, the French are pushing for nuclear power to play a leading role in European plans to produce more green technology in Europe. France itself has 56 nuclear reactors, which usually supply about 70 percent of France’s energy needs. In May, the French Parliament also passed a law that makes it possible to speed up the construction of new nuclear power plants.
Construction of the new plants will begin within four years and aims to accelerate France’s energy transition. Germany, which shut down its last three nuclear power plants in April, disputes this. “We cannot accept the definition of nuclear energy as renewable energy,” German State Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Stefan Wenzel (the Greens) said at an annual electricity sector conference.
He stressed that France and Germany “often have different approaches to energy policies, especially nuclear energy.” Le Maire stressed that France will not deviate an inch from its current situation. “France will not give up the competitive advantages associated with nuclear energy,” the French minister said. Wenzel went on to say that Germany accepts other alternatives to fossil fuels.
The sustainability of nuclear power and the role it can or cannot play in the energy transition has been under discussion for some time. It could be a way to generate relatively clean energy in large numbers. On the other hand, it takes a long time to build a nuclear power plant, hardly time to achieve the agreed climate goals. Moreover, there are hardly any good solutions for dealing with nuclear waste.
France is one of the last European countries to still believe in nuclear energy. Belgium, Spain and Switzerland are also phasing out nuclear power plants. In the latest coalition agreement, the Dutch cabinet approved the allocation of five billion euros for the construction of two nuclear power plants. To date, no company has reported wanting to make this build happen.
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