Belgium has four years to replace nuclear fleet which generated 39% of its electricity in 2020


The scale of the task facing legislators in the EU‘s nuclear states which have pledged to phase out the divisive power source has again been spelled out, this time by the bloc's statistical agency.

Eurostat has produced figures for 2020 which indicated nuclear plants generated almost a quarter of the bloc's electricity in that year, with the leading nuclear member states of France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden producing more than three quarters of that 684TWh figure.

While a 67% figure for France's reactor-generated electricity reiterated the nation's status as the EU's biggest nuclear state, the numbers for the other dozen states concerned highlighted how much work renewables will have to perform, particularly in Belgium. Nuclear, which Belgian legislators have pledge to phase out by the end of 2025, provided 39% of the country's electricity in 2020, according to Eurostat.

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And while the low carbon power source – which appears set to be, controversially, defined as sustainable by the European Commission despite perennial concerns over waste material and plant accidents – provided only 11% of Germany's electricity in 2020, the government there has committed to closing down its last reactors this year. Spain, which sourced 22% of its electricity from nuclear in 2020, has promised to phase out the power source this decade.

With France accounting for around 52% of the EU's nuclear electricity generation in 2020 – 354TWh, according to Eurostat – Germany and Spain generated 64.4TWh and 58.3TWh, respectively, and Sweden provided around 7% of the total figure by generating 49.2TWh of reactor-sourced power.

Eurostat said nuclear provided 54% of the electricity used in Slovakia in 2020, 46% in Hungary, 41% in Bulgaria, 38% in Slovenia, 37% in Czechia, 34% in Finland, 30% in Sweden, 21% in Romania, and 3% in the Netherlands.

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Proponents of nuclear argue its low-carbon nature justifies its inclusion in the European Commission's taxonomy of sustainable power sources, which also appears likely to include fossil fuel natural gas.

At the start of the week, Eurostat published figures indicating the supply of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning – a grouping the statistical body made – had achieved the largest relative and absolute falls in greenhouse gas emissions between the earliest reference year available, 2008, and 2020. The falls reported during that period were of 41% and 481 million tons of carbon equivalent, respectively, with the latter figure falling from 1.2 billion tons in 2008 to 719 million in 2020.

Eurostat said manufacturing supplied the largest volume of EU carbon emissions in 2020, with 740 million tons, ahead of the supply of power as defined above, with 719 million tons, and household emissions of 693 million tons.

The total emissions figure for the bloc fell 9% from 2019 and 24% since 2008, according to the EU institution.

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