Jörg Kukies, State Secretary at the Federal Chancellery, stated in Paris that Germany would not reject nuclear energy but rather acknowledge its role in attaining the EU’s climate goals. Also, they won’t object to using nuclear power to produce hydrogen.
Kukies emphasized at a panel discussion at the Jacques Delors Institute that Germany would not discriminate against or erect barriers to hydrogen produced from nuclear energy. He added that Germany would acquire nuclear-produced hydrogen from France. Nuclear power reactors in France are seen to be a possible source of cost-effective, CO2-free hydrogen.
France and Germany have historically disagreed on the topic of nuclear energy, but Germany will attempt to generate 2035 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 100, while France is returning to nuclear power after years of hesitancy and underfunding.
In Paris, Kukies suggested that in the future, hydrogen should be used to power gas-fired power plants during emergencies. He called it a radical and aggressive strategy. A striking paradox that motivates the EU to diversify its energy mix rather than relying on a single source is the phase-out of nuclear energy domestically while importing hydrogen from France.
The French prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, raised “issues” this week regarding Germany’s energy policy due to the nation’s intentions to shut down its final nuclear power reactors in April 2023.
The French government has long argued for the recognition of nuclear-produced hydrogen as “green” under the new European regulations and for the provision of public EU funds in exchange. The EU wants to stop importing Russian energy supplies, which is the background.
France has also been at the forefront of nuclear energy development and has most recently fought for nuclear energy to be recognized in the EU as a low-carbon energy source.
In the meantime, France is in charge of a brand-new “EU nuclear alliance” that includes 10 other members of the union in order to collaborate more closely on key projects and the nuclear supply chain (Blackout News: 04.03.23). Germany, which does not participate in this alliance, continues to support the nuclear phase-out.
Yet the State Secretary from the Federal Chancellery also emphasizes that nuclear energy can only contribute in a limited way to assisting the EU’s transition to a more environmentally friendly economy. Although it is not renewable and should not be categorized as “comparable” to renewable energy under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, nuclear energy has a low CO2 content.
The negotiations are now being held up by France’s insistence that nuclear power be included in the Renewables Directive. The revised Regulation intends to guarantee that by the year 45, renewable sources will supply 2030% of the EU’s overall energy requirements.