The European Union’s energy ministers are preparing for a clash at their informal meeting in Denmark next Friday (20 April) over whether to set a new target for renewable energy after 2020. The answer could have a direct impact on the future of nuclear energy in Europe.
The EU already has a target of achieving 20% renewable energy by 2020. The European Commission’s energy roadmap to 2050, unveiled in December and set to be discussed next Friday, suggests that a further target for 2030 could be set.
Several member states may argue that setting such a target would unfairly penalise other low-carbon energy sources, particularly nuclear energy. They want nuclear to be eligible for the same financial support.
In responses to questions posed to member states by the Danish presidency, France, Poland, the UK and the Czech Republic have argued for a technology-neutral approach that would let the market decide which low-carbon energy sources are best, rather than sector-specific targets that would focus public policy only on one low-carbon energy type.
In the EU’s separate low-carbon roadmap Poland wants an emissions reduction target only for 2050, while all other member states have signalled that they would accept interim emissions reduction targets set for 2030 and 2040. Countries such as Germany, which are advanced in renewable energy technology and opposed to nuclear energy, are likely to resist the efforts to scrap a renewables target.
Frauke Thies, an energy policy advisrr for Greenpeace, said the technology-neutral approach suggested by the four states would mean nuclear plants would be eligible for the same level of subsidies as renewables.
“Technology neutrality is a false concept,” she said. “Some technologies like nuclear have benefitted from hundreds of billions of euros in subsidies for decades, while we have others like renewables that are new to the market.”
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The Danish presidency will draw up draft conclusions based on the discussion next Friday, which energy ministers will discuss when they meet formally in June.