The European Commission “will not stand in the way” of countries that choose to build new nuclear power stations, said EU climate chief Frans Timmermans.

He warned however about the life-cycle costs of the technology, “which means that you will be stuck with it for a long, long, long time”.

The European Commission keeps a technology-neutral approach when it comes to nuclear power and will stick to its agnostic stance, said Timmermans, who is vice-president in charge of the European Green Deal at the EU executive.

“The huge advantage of nuclear power, of course, is that it’s emissions-free,” he said on Monday (26 October) during an online chat with Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“If you come to the conclusion that this is your best option, the Commission will certainly not stand in your way,” he said when Birol asked him about his views on nuclear power.

The statement by Timmermans suggests the European Commission will not block state aid for new nuclear projects in Poland and the Czech Republic, which have expressed interest in the technology as a way of meeting EU climate goals.

Last week, Warsaw announced that it would seek the EU’s approval to build a nuclear power station based on US technology, saying it is “impossible these days to build a nuclear power plant without state support”.

The country wants to build 6-9 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear energy capacity as part of plans to phase out coal power. It aims to complete the construction of its first nuclear power plant by 2033 but has not yet worked out a financing scheme.

Under a deal struck earlier that week, the US energy department said Warsaw was likely to buy $18 billion in nuclear technology from US companies.

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European Commission Vice-President in charge for European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans speaks on the Commission’s proposal of the European Climate Law at the second day of a plenary session at European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 06 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

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October 27, 2020 at 03:39AM