Post-Fukushima Policy

PDF versionPDF version

As of March 2012 there are 133 nuclear power reactors in 14 member states of EU-27. 13 of these decided to go ahead with nuclear, there is a new-build planned in 2 countries and a phase-out of nuclear in 2 member states of the EU-27 (Source: World Nuclear Power Reactors & Uranium Requirements, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/reactors.html). For Europe in general there seem to be changes in nuclear policy in Germany, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland. A new-build is planned in Lithuania and Poland.

Bulgaria (2 reactors operable, 2 planned):The government has begun to lend increasing weight to considerations of building another unit at Kozloduy instead of Belene (as per the current plans) because of the lower levels of seismic activity at this site The Belene site is near the Danube town of Svishtov, which was affected by the 1977 Vrancea Earthquake, of magnitude 7.2, in neighbouring Romania. However, ongoing delays to the Belene project are mainly due to disagreements with Russia's Rosatom over the price of the project.

Belgium (7 reactors operable): this country has reached a conditional agreement to join the list of countries abandoning nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, and has announced in November 2011 that it will aim for a two step phase out approach, closing its oldest reactors by 2015 and the remainder by 2025 – if it can find alternatives to replace its reactors. The new coalition government announced that it "will set out a plan for the move to alternative power sources in the six months following its installation (that is: by June 2012)." Officials said also that "the 2015 and 2025 dates would be "flexible" as the new government talks with energy companies and investors and implements plans to make the energy market more competitive."

On 4 July 2012 the Belgium's cabinet voted for a revised nuclear phase-out plan that will mean closing the Doel-1 and -2 nuclear recators in 2012, but prolonging the lifespan of Tihange -1 for extra 10 years, until 2025. The new proposals , which still need to be voted on by parliament, mean the country' s seven nuclear units will end operation by 2025: Doel-1 and -2 will shut in April 2015, and Doel-3 and -4 in 2025; Tihange-1 and -3 will shut down in 2025 and Tihange-2 in 2023.

Czech Republic (6 reacors operable, 2 planned, 1 proposed): The state-owned power company CEZ is committed to expanding its nuclear power generation fleet and development plans are progressing without delays.

Finland (4 reactors operable, 1 in construction): the country will continue with its nuclear plans. Though the Green League party, which opposes nuclear expansion in the country, it took a substantial hit at recent elections losing five of its 15 seats, so it seems unlikely that its nuclear policy was a significant factor in this.

France (58 reactors operable, 1 to be shut-down (Fassenheim), 1 in construction (Flamanville), 1 planned (Penly), 1 proposed): the country has largely come out in support of their existing fleet and industry.

On his blog, the French minister for industry, energy and digital economy Eric Besson stated on 22 March: “I still believe in the future of nuclear power, at least for the current century. But we must move towards greater security and to absolute transparency”.

Germany (9 reactors operable): Chancellor Angela Merkel announced, on 15 March, an immediate three-month closure of the country's nuclear power reactors that began operation in 1980 or earlier – seven in total (Biblis A, Biblis B, Brunsbuttel, Isar 1, Neckarwestheim 1, Philippsburg, Unterweser). Another unit already in long-term shutdown (Krümmel) was also included despite starting up in 1984. Furthermore, based on the report of the, so called, 'ethics committee', Merkel announced, on 30 May, that all nuclear power generation in the country would cease by the end of 2022. The seven pre-1980 plants that were shut down by the three-month moratorium, plus Krümmel, will not be restarted and only the three newest power plants – Neckarwestheim 2, Isar 2 and Emsland – will be allowed to operate until 2022. The other six reactors will close by 2021.

Hungary (4 reactors operable, 2 proposed) is committed to extend the service life of the Paks NPP and will continue the preparations for building new units at the same site.

In Italian voters had made it clear, on 13 June, that they were opposed to a new nuclear programme in their country. The nuclear option is off the table in the country for at least another five years (the length of time for which a referendum result is binding in the country).

Lithuania (0 reactors operable, 1 planned): Events at Fukushima do not seem to have affected the plans for Lithuania’s new Visaginas NPP, and in early June 2011, it was announced that promising new proposals had been submitted for the plant tender.

Netherlands (1 reactor operable, 1 proposed): The government has decided to carry on with plans for a second nuclear power plant in the country (to be built by 2019).

Poland (0 reactors operable, 6 planned): The first of the 6 planned nuclear power reactors is to be built by 2022, along the Baltic Sea.

Romania (2 reactors operable, 2 planned, 1 proposed): There has been no change in this country's policy towards nuclear power.

Slovak Republic (4 reactors operable, 2 in contruction, 1 proposed): The government has continued construction of the new MOCHOVCE units with commercial operation planned for 2013-2014.

Slovenia (1 reactor operable, 1 proposed): There has been no reported change in the nuclear policy of the government.

Spain (8 reactors operable): There has been no reported change in the nuclear policy of the government.

Sweden (10 reactors operable): In Sweden, at a parliamentary debate on 31 March, it was made clear that the current government does not intend to change a 2009 policy which would allow only the existing nuclear reactors to be replaced at the end of their lifetime.

United Kingdom (17 reactors operable, 4 planned, 9 proposed): In a House of Commons debate on 24 March, the secretary of State, Energy and Climate change, Chris Huhne commented that the UK will continue with the plans as set out in the coalition agreement, but with emphasis on safety. The UK government has commissioned Dr. Mike Weightman, the UK’s Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations, to examine lessons apparent from the Fukushima incident. An interim report published 18 May 2011 found there was no need to curtail the operations of nuclear plants. However, the report recommended 25 areas for review to determine whether appropriate measures could improve safety in the UK nuclear industry. These include reviews of the layout of UK power plants, emergency response arrangements, dealing with prolonged loss of power supplies and the risks associated with flooding. The final report was due in September 2011 and covered all nuclear installations.

NOTE: A World Energy Council document from March 2012 on the changes in nuclear energy policy one year after the Fukushima Accident can be downloaded here.