nuclear

Europeans have a love-hate relationship with nuclear power. Despite several European countries deciding to freeze or close their nuclear power programmes following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, around 30% of the electricity in the EU is still generated by nuclear power plants, coming from 132 plants in 14 EU member states. Moreover, four reactors are now under construction and another 17 are planned over the next few years.

We have already published a couple of debates on nuclear power (here and here), including an overview of the pros and cons of nuclear energy. However, after the upcoming European Parliament elections in May, important decisions about the future of nuclear energy will be made in Brussels. This means it’s important to decide now which party you will be voting for in May (and you can show your support now in our Debating Europe Vote 2014). How much do YOU want the EU to rely on nuclear energy in the future?

Whereas Fukushima and Chernobyl clearly illustrated the dangers of nuclear power, might it nevertheless provide a reliable source of energy in a world with growing energy needs? Especially when traditional energy resources are becoming scarcer? Moreover, although the construction of nuclear power plants is expensive, generating energy from nuclear reactors involves relatively low CO2 emission costs and reduces dependency on unstable political regimes. As such, the  Centre-Right,  Liberal Democrats and   Eurosceptics in the European Parliament believe that nuclear energy will remain an important source of energy in the future. Likewise, the  Conservatives highlight the importance of nuclear power, arguing that it provides a more reliable supply of energy and less dependence on non-EU countries.

In contrast, however, the Left ideologies believe that nuclear energy should be phased out entirely in the EU. The  Social Democrats ask for more EU-authorized stress tests. Meanwhile, the  Greens are calling for a rapid exit strategy out of nuclear energy, arguing that full energy security cannot be guaranteed as long as nuclear power exist in the EU. Instead, they are aiming for a 100% renewable energy based economy by 2050.

How dependent on nuclear energy do YOU want the EU to be in future? Does closing down nuclear power plants in the EU make us too dependent on energy imports? Will renewables provide enough energy to phase out nuclear power altogether? Let your voice be heard by voting for the political ideology that represents YOUR ideas in Debating Europe Vote2014!

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!


39 comments Post a commentComment


  1. adrian

    every EU member country should shut down every nuclear plant because of it’s hazardous effect that is against the people that live in those countries and the environment in them

  2. Kevin

    Chernobyl was an old plant and the last time I looked Europe is not in an earthquake area . The dangers are over egged .
    So yes Europe should have a nuclear energy programme. With the green agenda from the EU closing viable coal fired power stations we are left with little option to meet our energy needs .Shale is another option if we can get past the environmental concerns

    • catherine benning

      There is no such programme as a ‘green’ nuclear programme. Nuclear is not and cannot ever be ‘green.’ The waste alone is enough to contaminate the entire planet in a heartbeat and unless we send this filth in rockets to the sun, it cannot be disposed of safely.

      Nuclear energy is the panic tap of small minded politicians. They don’t know what to do with their power of decision and the big money pressure groups are leaning on their vulnerability. As what they offer will free them from responsibility once they opt for it. And who is paying for this, well, you and I and all the tax payers collectively. The energy companies sit back and wait for us to sheel out so that they can join the billionaire class.

      For those with a short attention span.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYg79E6thLU

      And the more enduring of you.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsrik7HEvh8

      Then there is corporate and governmental propaganda shown by Greenpeace. Which still continues today at a pace that is terrifying when you consider how mankind, for the want of making big money, will sell their fellow human, including their own families, at the toss of a coin.

      So, a resounding ‘No’ to Nuclear energy.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF6xPGWo8Es

    • Ronan Le Bras

      Europe is not an earthquake area ? I thought Italy and Greece were in Europe ? And Lisbon ( major earthquake in the 18th century). And Bucharest?

  3. Tarquin Farquhar

    Nuclear power stations are unsafe.

    Indeed, current French nuclear reactors are VERY unsafe. So much so that the UK has forced EDF to introduce extra safety design measures for any new French reactors built in the UK.

    Consequently, most of the existing French nuclear reactors should be shut down ASAP.

  4. Marcel

    Uncle Putin must be sponsoring the Greens because I cannot understand why they would want us to be more dependent on Russia?

    Then again, many parties that call themseves ‘green’ now have a large group in them of former communists when in the western world most communist parties were disbanded at the same time the Soviet Union disappeared.

    Green therefore is just another word for communist, envisaging all out state control. Do not trust anything that is green, unless its an apple.

  5. HT

    Nuclear energy is one of the cheapest energy sources. Whatmore – as the article also mentions – the CO2 emission of nuclear plants is relatively low.
    I don’t consider nuclear energy to be dangerous. However, I consider human irresponsibility and greediness to be dangerous. If we follow all the security standards, then there will be no problems. In Fukushima and Chernobyl they didn’t do so.
    So the edification of Fukushima and Chernobyl should be to take care more of safety and not to throw away nuclear energy just because accidents happened in the world. Or do we want to pay more for energy?
    By the way I also support renewable energy, however it has its limits. Of course, energy can be stored (considering solar cells and wind turbines), but it also has it’s costs and losses. So my opinion is that renewable energy and nuclear energy should be used paralelly.
    CO2 emission is much bigger problem than the tiny risk of a possible nuclear catastrophe.

  6. Τεπενδρής Πίπης

    you think the renewable energy can power your iphone charging..

    but it cant power a refrigirator late in a calm night.

    so please invest in something that can

  7. Joao Carlos da Cunha Sargedas de Sousa

    Europe should try to cease all nuclear power plants, going towards a future with more efficient and clean energies. Unfortunately, because of climate changes there will be more radical storms that could, in an unfortunately near future, create a serious problem inside Europe, a problem that will last thousands of years and in which humans can do nothing to treat. Imagine Fukuchima in France, Germany, Spain… imagine a big chunk of all our landmark cities, ruin for eternity… does that sound like a plausible future to you?

    • HT

      Renewable energy has its limits and costs (and it isn’t more efficient than nuclear energy). I don’t say that it shouldn’t be used, whatmore I say that it has to be increased and we should invest in it (as well). But shutting down all the nuclear reactors in Europe just because two accident happened in the world? Sounds crazy. How do you want to cease all nuclear plants in Europe while in France nuclear energy gives the 80% of energy? Here in Hungary 40%. And 30% for the whole EU.
      Imagine Fukushima in Europe? No! Imagine that we can build safe nuclear plants here in Europe. The Fukushima disaster was absolutely the consequence of human irresponsibility. Read the “Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster” in wikipedia:
      “The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission found the nuclear disaster was “manmade” and that its direct causes were all foreseeable.”
      Nuclear energy is quite clean, it doesn’t entail CO2 (and other pollutant) emission.
      I think our main goal should be
      1. to cease power plants that contribute highly to CO2 (and other pollutant) emission
      2. to invest in renewable energies
      3. keep working with nuclear energy and making it 100% safe

  8. Danijel Knezevic

    Shutting down modern nuclear power plants is the dumbest possible thing we can do.
    Two great incidents that had happen in history with NPP-s are not to be used as an example, because Chernobyl was an old soviet plant with safety measures that are well below today’s standards, and Fukushima was an old American built plant from the 50′s that was well over her due.
    Nuclear power is without a doubt the cleanest and the most safest power we create today in the EU, and with 132 NNP-s they give us around 15-17% of total energy in the EU.
    Now think about that for a second. In the European empire there are 515 million people, and cutting energy for a whooping 15% in just a decade is a great shock for the energetics system.
    Whit what are you gonna replace that large gap?
    You can’t do hydro, because all the rivers in the EU are already pretty much used up to the fullest.
    You can build gas power plants, but than you depend on mother Russia and their emperor Putin.
    I guess you can build coal plants, and at this coal prices it would be economical, but that is a fossil source, and there are almost no more coal mines in the EU.
    Renewables can give you few percentages at best.
    To put it in not so many words; you shut down nuclear, and we are all fuc***…

  9. Samo Košmrlj

    Remember how Siemens had to shut down testing of transrapid due to human error which resulted in crash of testing train? They then went to china and now china has an ultra modern magnetic levitation train and germany doesnt. Same thing could happen with nuclear technology, due to accident (in japan, mind you), where a very unfortunate combination of very strong earthquake, tsunami and, most importantly, obsolete technology resulted in an accident. Now germany is phasing out while some other countries proceed with construction of nuclear power plants.

  10. Nuno Oliveira

    Investing in Nuclear power or Fracking while there is a high potential for increased efficiency and savings is like spending money and resources to keep wasting money and resources. I know efficiency isn’t as sexy as building and burning stuff but it’s what makes sense at this point.

  11. Adam Harasztia

    Nuclear energy is a relatively cheap and significant energy source, (compared to renewable energy sources) not to mention the low CO2 emissions of nuclear plants. Plus not every country can build it’s own hydro or geothermal energy plant or enough wind farms because its geographical conditions (and do not forget that these energy solutions has environmental impacts too). Our only problem here (of course not just in Europe) is the storage of nuclear waste, which I hope to see a solution in the near future. With reliable and prepared human care we can preserve and maintain our energy needs in Europe with nuclear power. In the case of my country (Hungary), last week we made an investment concerning n.p., to build another two blocks which will produce 2×1200 MW (right now We produce 40% of our total enery output from n. energy). In the Carpathian Basin we don’t have to fear of earthquakes or any kind of tsunamis, we are not Japan. So I say no to shutting down our nuclear power plants in the future, it’s a cheap and a clean reliable energy source.

    - a Security and Defence Policy Officer

  12. George Danieldsg

    Ιt is not cheap.There are plenty other energy sources.Only benefit is the independence of the source and the loan from Russia.Unfortunately Russia is part of destructive nuclear interests.I wish you luck to avoid any accident during your life.

  13. Yolanda Loureiro

    the europe of private interests should be independt from all interests that damage their population. It used to be the land of freedom …

  14. Pedro Celestino

    End it completely, we can get all we need from renewable energy!!!

    And we should get or minds on how to make our stuff consume less (PC and smartphones have showed us how to go from very high power consumption to have better performer at 2-5% of the same energy consumption).

    Plus it is a very good strategy to not have few things producing all the energy, in case of natural disaster (or even in other kinds of disasters) it is the best bet on conserving infra-structures.

  15. Jaime Martins

    I think that nuclear technology is not being replaced in existing plants, if that happens they all become obsolete and endanger the lives of the people of Europe.
    Investing in efficiency and in clean and renewable technology are always better for the life of all of us.
    Why not study the Nicolas Tesla’s generator, he created a generator producing free energy for everyone, or will have to be always the money involved in everything we do in life?

    • HT

      Hahaha, good joke. And what should the EU do with the nuclear plants that give 30% of EU’s energy (and 80% that of France’s)?

      And what if the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? Of course we can store energy, but it needs accumulative devices that aren’t cheap and even if we have them, then still the loss is high. Do we want to pay more for electricity?

      Please don’t be afraid of nuclear energy! It can be used safe. Chernobyl and Fukushima were the consequences of human error.

  16. Danijel Knezevic

    We cant’ get everything we need from renewables unfortunately, because EROEI is very low with most of them.
    Solar has gotten a lot better in the last 5 years, and is still advancing, but such type of energy is viable for southern countries that have enough of sun hours.
    There is no simple solution for the EU, we have big demands, high standards, and we consume a lot.
    We consume 14 million barrels of oil a day in the EU, and 3,1 million Ghw of electric power.
    That are big numbers, that need stabile sources to meet the demand.
    We can achieve this by smart consumption, using more energy efficient cars, and electric devices, light bulbs and so on.
    We need to properly isolate homes in which we live so they don’t lose energy.
    There are lot’s of different ways we can make our consumption decrease, an we have to use them all.
    on the production side, there is no sound argument that argues for a shut down of NPP-s, because they have proven as a clean and stabile source of energy.
    I will remind you that we have 132 reactors in the EU and zero incidents.

  17. Nikolaos Sotirelis

    Now, if I’ll tell you that you don’t have to worry, cause you managed to mortgage stealthily, the Greek and Cypriot hydrocarbons, you should accuse me for trolling? ;)

    • Tarquin Farquhar

      @Nikolaos Sotirelis
      To whom are ‘you’ referring to? The EU?

  18. Judit Gaina

    Eu cred că sursele alternative de energie pot furniza suficientă energie pentru a elimina treptat energia nucleară, dar este necesară o politică energetică sănătoasă la nivel global.

  19. To

    Nuclear Power should be used as a bridge technology. As we recognized in Germany the only effect besided the uprising renewables, is the great come back of dirty coal burning power with negative effects on the carbon polution. This can not be the way. Nuclear power is not the devil, we should really give a chance to it. We just have this one planet.

  20. Peter Harvey

    All power stations (not just nuclear ones) have those towers and what they all produce is harmless WATER VAPOUR! Why do people use them to illustrate articles about pollution?

  21. Panos Mentesidis

    well closing down the nukes will make us even more depended on foreign fossil fuels and as far as i remember EU politicians adore to eat the behinds of guys like gaddafi and ben ali so the more we keep our hungry hungry hipoliticians away from bad guys the better.. so i guess go for nukes…and let the hippies protest peacefully by legalizing mary jane. you can also spend more on renewables, particularly research.

  22. Borislav Valkov

    When we have an new ecological alternative power source that can rival nuclear energy then we can debate how dependant we should be!

  23. Darius

    As far as I can see, Europe does not have the option to simply phase out nuclear energy. Although I support the cause of shutting down NPPs, they will nonetheless will be the bridge between yesterday’s coal and tomorrow’s renewables, whether we like it or not.

    Firstly, let us not forget, ‘nuclear powerplant’ is a vague term. We are already in possession of 3rd generation reactors. 4th Gen will not only cut down the radioactivity period of the waste produced from melliennia to centuries, but also achieved increase in yield between 100 and 300 times (less fuel used = less waste produced) no to mention all the additional security precautions. However these benefits are yet to be proven in practice.

    However let me point out one type of reactor that seems to be bunched up together with the rest of them – molten salt reactor. Why is it so amazing? Well its efficiency is yet to make it extremely viable (same as renewables to be honest) but it also posses the following perks which make it a good option after the standard nuclear reactors are ready to leave (if money is not an option):

    * It cannot meltdown
    * It produces no spent nuclear fuel
    * It uses existing nuclear waste as a catalyst destroying it in the process

    Believe it or not, nuclear power can be an ally. Don’t just shout out ‘nuclear power is evil’ without doing a bit more background research. Humans are very clever and given time and resources we will overcome any obstacle. However development comes in stages, not in leaps. We cannot just switch to renewables, they are not yet efficient enough to provide for all of our (growing) needs, but they should still make up a part of energy portfolio of any state.

  24. catherine benning

    An update on nuclear accidents. Thousand years of waste and untold change to the planet. We are not even yet aware of what his will do to the human race, and you would even at this point, consider this option for us all. Watch carefully and take it all in. How will your children suffer from this? Do you know? Do you care?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz1j4IHcsP4

  25. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Nuclear não obrigado o futuro esta em aberto e por isso lutamos pela Sustentabilidade dentro do Espaço Europeu

  26. Claudio

    Eu can close all Nucelar plast, for sure, but bfore doing this action Eu must have a b plan ready!
    moreover R&D on nuclear can go ahead only in a running plant. If EU shut off Nuclear plant they kill research on nuclear energy!

  27. zixoo

    People forget that nuclear reactors we have are still under research we are looking for more effective ways of using the waste and also to be more “green” I think the research should go on, but they should be under the pressure or they wont progress ;P

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