The French president announced on Tuesday night the creation of new nuclear power plants. On a European scale, France is the leading producer of nuclear energy. But what is the situation in other European countries? Here is a small summary.
Countries without nuclear energy
The Italian authorities had started a nuclear program several decades ago. But the accident at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986 changed the situation. In 1987, the population was consulted on the subject and they expressed their opposition to nuclear energy. The plants that were in operation were closed then.
In 2011, a new referendum confirmed the hostility of Italians to the presence of nuclear power plants on their territory. This does not prevent the country from obtaining electricity from France’s nuclear sites.
Recently, the Italian Minister of Ecological Transition caused a stir by expressing her interest in fourth generation nuclear reactors. Italian environmentalists reacted immediately to reaffirm their opposition to nuclear power on the peninsula.
In the 1970s a nuclear program was envisioned, but it was buried. And no one seems to want to dig it up. Portugal produces electricity with its hydroelectric dams, windmills, and coal and gas power plants.
Greece abandoned its nuclear program in the late 1970s. Athens considers that the numerous earthquakes affecting the country constitute a security risk incompatible with the installation of nuclear power plants.
Countries that abandon nuclear energy
Germany’s current position on the nuclear issue has been largely influenced by the Fukushima (Japan) accident in March 2011. A few days after the catastrophe, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the definitive abandonment of nuclear energy.
The closing of the last nuclear power plants is planned for the end of 2022. To compensate, Germany relies on its coal and gas power plants and a renewable energy program.
Spain has seven nuclear power plants, the first of which came into operation in the late 1960s. Today, these reactors produce almost a quarter of the country’s electricity.
In 2018, the Government announced that it did not want to extend the life of Spanish nuclear reactors, which is currently 40 years. Specifically, the last nuclear power plant should close between 2030 and 2035. The Spanish authorities are planning a massive investment in renewable energy.
Countries that invest in nuclear energy
The country is often criticized for its antiquated coal-fired power plants, which are considered too polluting. The government will accelerate its energy transition, focusing on renewable energy and nuclear energy. Six nuclear power plants will be built between now and 2040, thanks to an investment of 33,000 million euros. The first plant should be operational in 2033.
The UK mastered nuclear technology at an early stage and has embarked on a broad program of using nuclear energy. The first plant was built in the 1950s. Today, many reactors are closed due to their age. But the British authorities have not given up on nuclear power.
There are currently 10 nuclear power plants in operation, providing around 20% of the country’s total electricity production.
The Government is committed to drastically reducing its CO2 emissions. And it has decided that this will require the construction of new nuclear reactors. Two EPR reactors are currently being built, in collaboration with EDF.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.