EU Energy Union: Nuclear Power Is the Way Forward

BRUSSELS, March 19, 2015 – Westinghouse Electric Company welcomes the first formal discussion in the European Council on the European Commission’s Energy Union (EU) Strategic Framework, but insists that the Energy Union discussions need to start from Europe’s indigenous strengths, including its nuclear capacities.

“Any debate on Europe’s energy and climate future must include a safe energy source that provides nearly 30 percent of the EU’s domestic energy production, produces no CO2 emissions, is used in 14 member states, and is based on a world-leading industrial base," said Yves Brachet, Westinghouse president, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “This is the way forward to successfully achieve a low-carbon, competitive and energy secure system.”

Westinghouse and the nuclear energy industry in general are continuously seeking to make a significant contribution to EU energy and climate objectives. In the context of the discussions in the European Council the following points need to be addressed:

Energy Security: nuclear fuel diversification is the way forward
Reducing the EU’s external energy dependency is a central dimension of the Energy Union, and part of the solution lies in Europe’s strength to diversify its nuclear energy fuel.  Currently, five member states (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia) are operating Russian VVER-type reactors (four VVER-1000- and 14 VVER-440-type reactors) and are 100 percent dependent on fuel supply from Russia, contributing up to 52 percent of electricity in the various Member States concerned.

Producers that could provide the same services exist however in the EU itself. Westinghouse for example, is the only other fuel manufacturer for VVER-type reactors. The VVER-type fuel is produced at its fabrication facility in Västerås, Sweden. The facility is now supplying an increasing number of nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

Road to COP 21: nuclear key in fight against climate change
Westinghouse welcomes the EU’s adoption of the 2030 reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent. Nuclear energy is and will be key to achieve this target.

With 790 Mtoe (one million tons of oil equivalent), the EU today produces nearly half of its own consumption in the EU. What is more, across the 28 member states, hydro, wind and solar energy capacity, along with 131 nuclear reactors, produce 24 and 29 percent respectively of the EU’s domestic energy – and this with no CO2 emissions. Nuclear energy alone provides 55 percent of the EU’s low-carbon electricity.  This is a solid basis for Europe’s successful transition to a low-carbon society.

Internal market: building on Europe’s existing strengths 
The EU needs to take swift action to achieve a fully functioning and interconnected European internal energy market to secure the uninterrupted supply of energy throughout Europe and increase interconnectivity.

Europe has an extensive existing network to transport energy. Our electricity grid may be in dire need of upgrading, but the fact is we are not starting from zero. A lot of what is required to meet our future needs already exists. This is a tremendous asset that needs to be maintained and improved, which can also avoid investments in redundant capacity. 

Energy Efficiency: a high and indispensable priority
Energy is a valuable resource that needs to be used in the most efficient manner throughout the energy system, from production through generation, transmission, distribution and consumption. Today’s energy system offers tremendous potential for efficiency improvements.

In the nuclear sector the modernization of older plants can help extend the continued production of safe, secure and low carbon electricity, but also increase the amount of electricity generated from the same fuel.

Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Westinghouse supplied the world's first pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa., U.S. Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including more than 50 percent of those in Europe.