Green Paper Presented in Strasbourg

Berlin, 29.11.2000

The European Energy Commissioner, Ms Loyola de Palacio, has suggested that the use of nuclear energy should be incorporated into the EU Commission´s planned Green Paper as being necessary to preserve the climate and for security of supply. The principal contents of the Green Paper are being presented today (29th November) at a meeting of the SFEN (Société Française d`Energie Nucléaire) in Strasbourg. As was only to be expected, she has not met with agreement from all the other commissioners, but on the other hand, it is already becoming apparent that targets for CO2 reduction, at least for the very ambitious German ones, can only be achieved through great efforts, through close collaboration between the worlds of politics and business, and through heavy subsidies being granted on insulation in buildings, on combined gas and steam power plants and on combined heat and power plants. Without the continued operation of German nuclear power plants, which save 160 to 170 million tons of CO2, year in year out, there would not be the slightest chance of achieving the targets for CO2 reduction within the envisaged period of time.

Every year, nuclear energy saves about 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, and as capacity is constantly being added that figure is rising. This is a strong argument for giving powerful support to Ms de Palacio`s suggestion of including nuclear energy in the EU Commission`s planned Green Paper as a major contributor to climate protection and security of supply.

The possible contribution of renewable energy sources, most estimates of which are highly optimistic, likewise cannot be increased quickly without massive subsidies. It will be totally unrealistic for a long time to come to regard it as an alternative to nuclear energy. On the other hand, the uranium and thorium "fuels" will be available for very long periods of time and at low cost; for 100 years they will be cheap and for several thousand years they will be more expensive, but not so expensive as to have a major effect on power generation costs. If breeder technology is used they will be available for 100,000 years. The prospect of uranium and thorium prices remaining stable for many years, and the low proportion of fuel costs within the total cost of producing energy from nuclear power plants, have recently provided additional proof of the competitiveness of nuclear power plants over power generation from fossil fuels - which have raw-materials value in terms of the required sustainability which should actually prohibit their being burnt.


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