The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 was a turning point for nuclear power in Europe, with few new plants built since. While nuclear still plays a major role in the EU, aging facilities present financial and security risks. In the years since, reactors in Europe have become old and many European countries have come to resist nuclear power – motivated mainly by the long-term risks that underlie it. However, about a third of all electricity in the European Union still comes from nuclear power, figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show. Adding to the controversy around new nuclear plants, citizens and politicians are voicing more concerns over the potential risks of old reactors. Existing European nuclear plants have been having more close calls, and could be targeted by terrorist attacks. But in order to use old reactors safely, their infrastructure needs to be upgraded, said Frank Peter from the Berlin office of the Switzerland-based economic consultancy Prognos. Existing reactors in Europe are on average around 30 years old, and their original operational life time was planned to run 30 to 35 years. Peter believes upgrading old reactors is not financially viable. “For the old power plants to produce electricity at a same level of safety as new ones, each power plant would need an investment of 3 to 4 billion euros,” Peter told DW. Due to financial pressures, one reactor in Switzerland and four in Sweden will go offline before 2020 – much earlier than planned, nuclear energy expert Mycle Schneider explained.
Deutsche Welle 26th April 2016 read more »