BRUSSELS, October 22, 2014 – Westinghouse Electric Company, a leading voice for the nuclear industry in Europe and worldwide, today called on European Union (EU) heads of state to remain committed to a low-carbon, affordable, and secure energy future. This recommendation is made in anticipation of the European Council taking place tomorrow on the EU 2030 climate and energy framework.
The current use of nuclear energy (29 percent of EU's total primary energy production) avoids the emission of approximately 600 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent every year. To make savings equivalent to those from the use of nuclear power, all passenger cars in the EU would have to be taken off the roads. Any decision taken on Europe’s energy future must consider the strong impact nuclear has on energy security, climate objectives and competitive prices for both consumers and industry.
Outlining the key role nuclear can play in helping to deliver the EU’s climate and energy ambitions, Westinghouse President for Europe, Middle East and Africa Yves Brachet commented: “Nuclear is and will remain one of the most important electricity sources to provide secure, affordable and sustainable energy in the EU without destroying the climate and the environment.
We remain convinced that a technology-neutral EU climate and energy policy with a single overall CO2 reduction target, together with a strong Emission Trading Scheme is the best way forward. It is only through a coherent, predictable and long-term regulatory framework that a secure investment environment for low-carbon technologies can be achieved.”
In particular, Westinghouse would like to see the following points taken into consideration for the European Council’s conclusions:
A 40 percent binding and single target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction
Westinghouse supports an ambitious and binding target of 40 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction by 2030. This is the most effective way of ensuring that the EU meets its climate and energy goals in the long term. The 40 percent target is needed to promote innovation and investment in low-carbon technologies in the most cost-effective and non-discriminatory approach.
A technology-neutral climate and energy policy
A technology-neutral climate and energy policy is the most effective way for Europe to achieve its objectives in a non-discriminatory manner. It would help to avoid problems resulting from multiple targets and inconsistencies between greenhouse gas and Renewable Energy Sources (RES) policies, such as unfair competition for low-carbon technologies, unworkable market mechanisms, higher costs and a malfunctioning ETS.
An EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as the cornerstone of Europe’s climate and energy policy
Westinghouse remains convinced that a strong ETS, delivering valid investment signals, is the core instrument for achieving a low-carbon energy sector. A well-functioning ETS, with required structural reform, will help avoid market fragmentation, particularly when complemented with an EU-wide carbon tax.
A strong European energy security strategy
The EU needs a strong energy security strategy that goes hand-in-hand with ensuring Europe’s transition to an independent, low-carbon and competitive energy mix. This means ensuring diversity of supply sources and the reduction of dependency from particular fuels, energy supplies and routes.
An affordable energy future, promoting jobs and supporting growth
With consumers across Europe facing increasingly high electricity prices, and wholesale electricity prices and CO2 prices being low, Europe needs an integrated energy and climate approach, which combines both economic growth and de-carbonization objectives. The nuclear energy sector contributes an estimated 70 billion Euro to the European economy per year and directly and indirectly supports an estimated 800,000 jobs in the region. Due to the low variable costs (such as fuel, operations and maintenance), nuclear energy is one of the most economically predictable, stable and competitive sources of electricity in the EU.
A common voice to enter international climate negotiations
Heads of state need to reach a common position to be submitted before the December 2015 UN climate summit in Paris (COP 21). The EU cannot expect to credibly lead international climate negotiations and influence other countries towards its own climate and energy ambitions and actions without having a strong, aligned position across the 28 member states.
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.