A leaked “strategy paper” in the German media has thrown up fresh questions over what Europe intends to spend its innovation budget on. In the paper, dedicated to nuclear research, the European Commission and member states set out broad goals for the nuclear industry, including developing small modular reactors. Nuclear opponents reacted furiously. Sonja van Renssen investigates the fight over nuclear research that goes on in the corridors of Brussels and assesses the implications for the future of European energy research. On 17 May, the Spiegel Online, one of Germany’s main media outlets, published a scoop entitled “EU wants to massively strengthen nuclear”. The author reported that a new “strategy paper” reveals that the European Commission wants to drive the construction of new nuclear plants and even develop new “mini-reactors”. This was a juicy story for Germans, where the last nuclear plant is due to be shut down in 2022. The story catapulted up to the national level, with German Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, denouncing it: “It is absurd even to consider that one of the oldest technologies we use for energy generation in Europe, should get subsidies again. The EU’s ambitions on nuclear remain unclear at this point. The draft agreement has yet to be adopted and may in theory still be amended. Why does it matter at all? Because the SET Plan and its offshoots determine what projects ultimately get political attention and money. There are no funds directly attached to the SET Plan but it will guide the expenditure of EU R&D funds in the Horizon 2020, plus national and private funds.
Energy Post 27th May 2016 read more »