Germany, Spain Persistent to Keep Nuclear Out of EU Renewable Targets

Seven EU countries, led by Germany and Spain, are keeping up resistance to France’s efforts to designate nuclear energy in EU’s renewable energy targets. The European Union is discussing more ambitious targets to develop renewables this decade, but the talks have been deadlocked because of a dispute over whether hydrogen produced using nuclear power should be labeled as “low-carbon”.

On Thursday, ministers from the seven countries – Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain – wrote to Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency and represents countries in EU policy negotiations, calling for the targets to be kept free of non-renewable energy sources.

“Taking into account low-carbon hydrogen and low-carbon fuels in the 2030 (renewable energy) targets would decrease the ambition and slow down renewables deployment, which in turn would jeopardize the achievement of the climate targets,” the ministers said in the letter.

The ministers pointed out that this decade would be decisive for reining climate change, in which renewables and hydrogen would be key.

“Additional renewable energy capacity can be installed within short timeframes and at comparatively competitive costs,” the letter said.

Nuclear energy is low-carbon, but not renewable. The fuel source divides EU countries, with Austria and Luxembourg firmly opposed, while others including Germany are phasing out their reactors and countries including Denmark and Ireland are nuclear-free.

France, which has historically relied on nuclear energy for 70% of its power, is pushing to open up the EU renewable energy targets.

Last month France, Poland, the Czech Republic and six other pro-nuclear EU countries presented their argument that the development of hydrogen would be slowed down without the use of nuclear energy.

The seven countries said they were open to discussing low-carbon fuels’ contribution in other EU laws, including on gas networks – but that renewable goals should only be met by wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.

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