If the European Union wants to keep nuclear energy alive until 2050 it will need to find up to EUR 450 billion in investments, according to a new report published by the European Commission.

There are 129 nuclear power reactors in operation in 14 Member States, with a total capacity of 120 gigawatts  and  an  average  age  of close  to  30  years. It is estimated that more than 50 of  those reactors  are  to  be  shut  down  by  2025.

“If no new power plants are built, in 2040 we will not have any kind of nuclear energy in Europe,” claimed European sources.

Maintaining  a  nuclear  generation  capacity  of  between  95  and  105  gigawatts would require between EUR 350 and 450 billion in  new  plants  to  replace  most  of  the  existing  nuclear  power capacity, according to the report, the first one released since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

Moreover European nuclear operators estimated that EUR 253 billion will be needed for nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management until 2050.

The European Commission believes that nuclear  energy  is  expected  to  remain  an  important  component  of  the  EU’s energy mix through 2050.

The total estimated investments in the nuclear fuel cycle between 2015 and 2050 are projected to be between EUR 650 and 760 billion.

Nuclear risks

The Greens at the European Parliament criticized the EU Commission for choosing a high risk strategy of extending reactor lifetime up to 60 years, instead of thinking of alternatives.

“This paper shows that the EU Commission’s thinking is still influenced by nuclear supporters in key positions. The paper is a bizarre mixture of illusion and propaganda. It is alarming that the Commission sees the greatest potential for the future of the nuclear sector via the extension of reactor lifetimes by up to 60 years. This approach is grossly irresponsible for such a high risk technology,” stated Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms.

The Greens energy spokesperson, Claude Turmes, said that the EU Commission is simply ignoring the reality that nuclear power can no longer compete with renewable energy.

“The Commission acknowledges that billions of Euro required for decommissioning nuclear plants and dealing with nuclear waste are missing but makes no proposals for how this gap should be addressed. The only answer given is to prolong the lifetime of nuclear reactors. This is at odds with the EU treaties and the principle that those responsible for such costs should foot the bill, ” Turmes said.

EC report on nuclear energy
Greens alternative study