Tuesday, January 24, 2006

France warns EU on nuclear power vote

France warns EU on nuclear power vote

By AOIFE WHITEAP Business Writer
France warns EU on nuclear power vote

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JAN. 24 12:26 P.M. ET Shunning nuclear power will push up electricity prices for the entire 25-nation European Union, France warned EU finance ministers on Tuesday.
"The avowed aim of a number of member states to abandon nuclear power is leading them to opt preferentially for fossil fuel based production, the cost of which will be aggravated by incorporating the CO2 impact," the French government said in an energy policy paper circulated at a monthly ministerial meeting in Brussels.
"Owing to the existence of a European electricity market, the member states as a whole will then have to absorb the resulting price rises."


Germany has so far held firm to its commitment to phase out its unpopular nuclear power stations even though the recent Russia-Ukraine gas row highlighted its growing reliance on imported oil and gas.
Nuclear power has a bad name in Western Europe even though it is the EU's biggest single source of electricity. Thirteen EU member states use nuclear power, while several others are determined to shun it.
France -- which generates three quarters of electricity from nuclear -- pushed its view that nuclear power is of "strategic importance" to Europe as the 25-nation bloc aims to limit its dependency on energy imports and tackle greenhouse gas emissions.
Nuclear plants are emission-free, French Industry Minister Francois Loos told reporters in Paris. "Gas emits, nuclear doesn't emit," he said.
"We produce less than 50 percent of the emissions that Germany does, with not much less consumption," he said. "Nuclear is an important player here."
Germany and Sweden are saying no to nuclear, promising to phase out its unpopular atomic power stations even as France, Britain, Italy and Finland consider building more.
France said electricity prices will rise as Europe replaces a large number of energy generators over the next 20 years and introduces emissions trading to limit carbon dioxide pollution.
Paris called on the European Union to take nuclear power on board and invest more in nuclear research and development to boost security, safety and waste management.
"The positive contribution of nuclear power to the European electricity market, to the EU's security of supply goals, to electrical continuity of service at competitive prices and to combating climate change should be mentioned," the paper said.
It reminded EU countries that nuclear power generates 34 percent of European electricity "thus offering an independent and stable means of meeting a large share of European energy demand, while avoiding a rise in our greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the entire European automobile fleet."
If current trends continue, the European Commission says by 2030, almost 70 percent of the EU's energy will be imported. Energy demand is forecast to rise by 1 percent to 2 percent a year with fossil fuel use rising to almost 90 percent of the total energy supply.
France plans to discuss a new law on radioactive waste disposal before summer 2006, saying it will set up an independent authority to monitor nuclear safety this year.
An EU poll released Tuesday showed just 12 percent of Europeans saw more nuclear power as the best solution to reduce Europe's dependency on current energy sources. The most popular alternative was solar power, supported by 48 percent of citizens.
Support for nuclear power was highest in Sweden, where it was backed by 32 percent. In France, just 8 percent favored it, compared to 18 percent in Britain, where the government wants to debate building more nuclear power plants.
Overall, the nuclear option came bottom of choices offered to citizens by the Eurobarometer pollsters, which included solar power, more spending on research into new energy sources, wind power and regulation to reduce dependence on oil.


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