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EU will need conventional energy sources for sometime yet, says EP

On current trends, the EU will rely on imports to meet 65% of its energy needs by 2030. Yet gas and oil supplies are dogged by uncertainty due to geopolitical risks and growing demand elsewhere.

The report, drafted by Herbert Reul (EPP-ED, DE), was adopted with 509 votes in favor, 153 against and 30 abstentions and says that nuclear energy is “indispensable if basic energy needs are to be met in Europe in the medium term.”

Nuclear energy “indispensable” for some time to come
Acknowledging that nuclear energy is a key component of power supply in most EU Member States, providing one-third of the EU’s electricity supply, MEPs say that nuclear energy is “indispensable if basic energy needs are to be met in Europe in the medium term.” Given that “nuclear energy is currently the largest low-CO2 energy source in Europe”, they added, “the renunciation of nuclear power will make it impossible to achieve the objectives set regarding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and the combating of climate change”. Commissioner Piebalgs agreed. “It will be difficult”, he said, “to achieve our climate change goals without the use of nuclear energy.” The need to produce and use energy more safely, efficiently and sustainable across the Union is also underlined in an own-initiative report on “conventional energy sources” adopted by the European Parliament.

Welcoming the Commission’s communications on sustainable power production from fossil fuels, MEPs underlined that these and other conventional sources will remain highly important in ensuring the EU’s security of energy supply. Given the EU's commitment to tackling climate change, however, MEPs stressed that the Union and its Member States should redouble their R&D efforts “to enhancing the efficiency of energy production and supply, reducing environmental consequences, improving the safety of existing technologies, developing storage techniques for renewables and developing new generations of nuclear reactors.”

Carbon capture
MEPs called on the Commission to quickly table legislative proposals on carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology “so as to respond to the legal issues surrounding the storage and transportation of CO2.” They underlined “that CCS should be fitted to fossil fuel plants at the earliest practical opportunity”. The committee nonetheless acknowledged that CCS technology is linked to losses of efficiency in power stations and called for research to address the issue.

Speaking prior to the vote, Industry Commissioner Andris Piebalgs assured MEPs that the Commission will address the issue of the legal framework for CCS in a legislative proposal. The goal, as far as CCS is concerned, “is clear: to see several large-scale demonstration plants operational in the EU by 2015, and to bring the technology to the market by 2020”. Members also stressed the significant potential of energy generation from biomass, the need for the EU to support synthetic fuels technology and, with a view to the diversification of gas imports, the importance of liquefied natural gas (LNG). (europarl.europa)