Nuclear (and gas) in the EU Taxonomy. What’s next?

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Published on 07/07/2022

Thank you to everyone who made the trip to Strasbourg on July 5th and 6th to support the integration of nuclear into the EU taxonomy!

This taxonomy is imperfect. Many conditions leaving room for interpretation are imposed on nuclear power and risk limiting its potential to substitute massively for fossil fuels in Europe if they are misused. Gas integration is heartbreaking. But the results are objectively positive.

There is still a lot to do to fight against ideological biases and restore technological neutrality in French and European public policies, a lot to do for the climate, but this validation by the European Parliament was a fundamental step!

Thank you to everyone who supports us, and to those who fought this battle alongside us. It was very long, and it’s only just begun.

On the inclusion of gas, we shall recall:

  • That it is the fruit of political negotiations.
  • That the detractors of nuclear have maneuvered to bind them in the same delegated act, so as to penalize nuclear by association (and that they will therefore have just succeeded in favoring gas).
  • That gas is much less capital intensive than nuclear and therefore unfortunately does not need to be in the taxonomy to flourish in Europe, and that the best way to get rid of it is to oppose it with real low- carbon in the field of controllable energies.

Even though the natural gas has (unfortunately) made it to the Taxonomy, it’s under very severe conditions:

  • The gas-fired plant concerned must emit less than 100 gCO2/kWh (400-500 g fossil gas, coal around 1000 g), by adding biogas and/or CO2 capture and storage.
  • Such a plant would represent a huge improvement if it replaced a coal-fired plant (90% reduction in emissions), and would not be so far from photovoltaics (around 30-60 gCO2/kWh).
  • Or, before 2030, a tolerance of 270 gCO2/kWh, or 550 kgCO2/kW, which for a very efficient gas-fired power plant means a right to operate 60 days a year.
  • Provided that there is no more profitable renewable alternative. This means that renewables have priority in order to reduce the share of gas as much as possible.
  • And it is necessary that this gas comes to replace something worse, that this replacement leads to a reduction in emissions, that the plant is convertible to non-fossil fuels, and that the recipient country is committed to phasing out coal.

But there must be checks on the correct application of these conditions, and financial penalties if necessary, otherwise the door is open to fossil gas.

As parliamentarians will no longer have to fight over nuclear power, they will be able to focus on monitoring what is happening on the gas side, and that the regulations and the spirit of the regulations are well followed!