European “Power” Struggle Boiling Over

The latest EU draft plan for stable power includes nuclear and natural gas energy

After years of anti-gas and anti-nuclear policy setting from the European Union, the latest draft plan for stable power in the region includes nuclear and natural gas energy as part of its climate-friendly future. The document immediately set off howls of protest and accusations of greenwashing.

The bone of contention is the EU executive commission’s proposed classification system. It defines investment in sustainable energy in a way that allows gas and nuclear energy under certain conditions. It may even open up both sources of power to green financing. This is a stark turnaround from prior policy that attempted to outlaw or phase out both.

With France and Germany having so much clout in the region, these changes to the plan may survive opposition. France relies heavily on nuclear energy. The German grid has been plagued by problems since it decided to shut down most of its nuclear capacity and rely on renewable resources. Its final nuclear facility is scheduled to be closed by the end of 2022. It appears the German government has come to terms with the need for natural gas-based power to support renewable resources in order to maintain a stable grid and avoid energy shortfalls or blackouts.

The EU’s target of becoming climate neutral by 2050 remains. Environmental groups are rallying to change the proposed plan. But France and Germany hold sway in the EU. And several smaller nations agree with the need to support nuclear or gas resources, at least in the short term. To go into law, the plan requires the backing of a majority of EU member states.

While the EU has largely been hostile to natural gas, its dependency on LNG and Russian pipeline gas is hard to ignore. It will be interesting to see how this development plays out in the coming months.