Westinghouse: Europe Needs Action Now to Get Energy Union Back on Track

BRUSSELS, June 8, 2015 – The current direction of the Energy Union in the European Union (EU) risks undermining energy security and the fight against climate change, according to leading nuclear technology company Westinghouse.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU Energy Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, Westinghouse president for Europe, Middle East and Africa Yves Brachet said that political debate on the subject has been so far been incomplete since the European Commission launched its Energy Union vision in February 2015.

“We are concerned that such an important debate on Europe’s energy and climate future ignores nuclear, which provides the highest share of the EU’s energy needs. Nuclear is low-carbon, safe, secure and affordable power. If Europe doesn’t want to rely on energy imports, nuclear has an important role to play,” Brachet added.

The contribution of nuclear to the EU energy mix – 29 percent of the EU’s total primary production – accounts for more than solar, wind and hydropower combined (24%), as well as solid fuels such as coal (20%), gas (17%) and oil (9%). Nuclear accounts for 55 percent of the EU’s low-carbon electricity. If the EU wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, it needs a policy that supports the growth of all low-carbon energy including both nuclear and renewables.

The nuclear industry supports around 800,000 jobs in Europe. Those jobs could be at risk if Europe fails to create a political, regulatory and economic environment that encourages the necessary investments. The converse is also true: if Europe invests in low-carbon energy and science, it will be investing in growth and jobs.

Westinghouse urges the EU institutions to show leadership and end the uncertainty that hangs over the future direction of EU energy and climate policy. It is essential that the EU take the following three actions now:
1. Ensure a political and regulatory level playing field for all low-carbon energy sources (nuclear, wind, solar, hydro) in the EU energy mix;
2. Design/support a new electricity market that rewards all low-carbon energy (nuclear and renewables), with equal access to the electricity grid; and
3. Set a strong carbon price signal by drastically reforming the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which will support all climate-friendly energy sources in the same way. 
Westinghouse believes that the Energy Union can result in a more resilient energy system in Europe, which would be less dependent on imports. Building on Europe’s indigenous strengths, we can move forward in a more resource efficient and cost-effective way. New low-carbon energy production facilities must be built to replace outdated fossil fuel generation, but existing infrastructure and plants must also be maximized by making intelligent and cost-effective upgrades and interconnections that can help better meet the varied needs of each member state. 

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.