BRUSSELS (AFP) — Nuclear power will remain a key element as the world seeks to move toward low carbon energy, the European Commission said Friday, announcing a new forum for nuclear energy research.
The Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform will bring together industry and researchers to draw up a strategy "to prepare for the future and maintain European leadership in this sector," the EU's executive arm said in a statement.
"Energy consumption worldwide is likely to double between 2000 and 2050, and nuclear energy will remain a key element in future low-carbon energy systems," it added.
"Europe has the largest nuclear industry in the world and one third of its electricity comes from nuclear plants."
European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik said that "for those countries that choose it," nuclear power will be "a very important part of their solution to security of supply and reduction of greenhouse gases".
She stressed that two major political and public concerns must be addressed to make this possible.
The first is ensuring that nuclear power is economically competitive.
The second "more importantly" is to make nuclear power "as neutral as possible in environmental terms and in terms of the legacy we leave future generations," she said, a reference to nuclear waste.
Potocnik said the answer to both concerns lies in research and innovation including on "a significant reduction in nuclear waste as well as sound ways of recycling or storing it".
When questioned about Potocnik's comments her spokesman took pains to stress that the choice of using nuclear energy remained one for individual EU member states.
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