Nuclear and gas stations received a “green” rank. But at what cost | Energy | in the news

Brussels has finally decided to consider natural gas and nuclear power plants as sufficient green sources of energy for favorable tax and investment conditions. It seems that a long and stormy debate between supporters and opponents of nuclear and gas energy, as well as the enemies of both options, has ended amid the protests of individual capitals and environmental organizations in the European Union.

The European Commission has chosen a compromise solution to the long-running simmering dispute over gas and nuclear power. Over the past few years, so much has been said and written on this subject that it would suffice for a multi-part political detective story.

Now Brussels has submitted for approval a “taxonomic supplementary climate law” aimed at “mitigating and adapting to climate change, and covering certain gaseous and nuclear activities,” according to a published press release.

However, the Council of Commissioners considers natural gas and uranium to be completely “friendly”, that is, in line with the environmental objectives of the European Union. Thus subject to tax and investment subsidy. It is believed that approval of this document in the European Parliament and the Alliance Council is practically a foregone conclusion.

The solution “may not be ideal, but it is a real solution – it pushes us further towards our ultimate goal of carbon neutrality,” said the EU Commissioner for Classification and Regulation, Mered McGuinness. “The international commitment we made in Glasgow was to move away from coal, and parts of Europe are still very dependent on coal. Today we’re looking at how gas and nuclear contribute.”

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There is no limit to resentment of the commissioners’ decision among environmental organizations not prone to pragmatism. Some European capitals staged strong protests.

Austria, which opposes both gas and “peaceful atom”, has warned that it will go to court to try to stop the “classification law”. We stand in solidarity with it, but only in rejecting natural gas as an energy source.

Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden signed a joint letter strongly condemning the gas projects as “largely incompatible” with EU goals. Meanwhile, Germany once again called the use of the term “green enough” for nuclear power “unacceptable”. Berlin has nothing against natural gas.

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Therefore, it will now be possible to build and operate nuclear and gas power plants without the immediate risk of bankruptcy due to increased interest on loans, legal costs and other obstacles, or bankruptcy later due to carbon quota payments. Thus, Estonia, which seems to be dreaming of its own nuclear power plant, will be able to implement this idea in the future and may receive preferential loans and grants from Brussels for this.

Russian natural gas will continue to enjoy increased demand (at least until 2030), and blocking Gazprom after the European Commission’s decision will become even more difficult. The latter also applies to Rosatom, which has existing contracts in the countries of the European Union and plans for new ones (Brussels allows capital investments in nuclear projects until 2045).

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It seems that this whole story, which is not officially over yet, has left a painful scar not only in the souls of environmental activists who do not want to look at the problem of energy supply from the point of view of real, urgent and everyday needs. From the countries of the coalition, its industry and its inhabitants. There is one feature in this power struggle that makes one doubt the absolute honesty of European capitals in relation to one another.

Of course, their differences reflected the fact that each member of the coalition has its own energy mix, and although they are united in principle in the fight against climate change, they do not want to pay a disproportionate or higher price than others to achieve it. Male green goals. But one has the impression that some capitals sought to do the same and increase the burden of losses and casualties on the Allies.

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Perhaps some of the alleged reasons for such various assessments of compliance with the “green goals” of certain types of energy can be considered unreasonable and even unfair, but they simply cannot be ignored.

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Why, for example, has Austria become the staunch opponent of both nuclear power plants and gas stations? The most ardent ascetics of nature and climate politics can be considered to be in power there. One must think that the reasons for Vienna’s special status are many, and the intention to combat global warming is undoubtedly one of them. But there is something else on this list that can confuse the staunch supporters of the idea of ​​a united Europe that proclaims common principles and values.

But is Vienna opposed to both gas and nuclear power only in principle, or does it also have enough hydroelectric plants to supply its own power, and wouldn’t mind selling more of the surplus to its neighbours? Vienna is clearly well aware of the cost to, for example, of classifying France as “dirty” in the field of nuclear energy.

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Denmark, with a coastline of 7,000 km, has invested huge sums in building offshore wind farms over the past 30 years and may want to take advantage of this advantage. Sweden and the Netherlands, which have their own nuclear power plants, are staunchly opposed, mainly to fuel stations, although their exclusion from the “green and sustainable” list is unacceptable for Germany and a number of other allied countries.

In turn, Germany stood to the end against nuclear power plants, which form the basis of the energy of neighboring France and are therefore vital to her. Paris has gone to great lengths to discredit gas-fired power plants, which Germany has described as a key component of its coal phase-out and the hope of the country’s entire energy decarbonization programme.

It all really seems that the Allies not only defended their energy security, but also tried to encroach on the energy security of the allies, inflicting losses on each other under the guise of a principled struggle for energy decarbonization.

It may be much more useful to maintain illusions about the true motives of some “green” actions by individual governments than not to delve into the background of the dispute over a “taxonomic supplemental climate law”. But it will undoubtedly leave its mark on European ideas about unity.

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editors.

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