5 February 2021
A new study on EU climate policy co-commissioned by the ECR Group finds that it is practically impossible to generate sufficient energy with wind and solar energy as there is not enough available land to cover all electricity demand. The study, titled ’Road to EU Climate Neutrality by 2050’ advises the EU to embark on a “Nuclear Renaissance” programme in trying to achieve its climate objectives.
The EU has endorsed the ambitious objective of achieving climate neutrality (i.e. net zero greenhouse gas carbon emissions) by 2050. An energy transition away from fossil fuels is necessary to achieve this objective. The ECR Group in the European Parliament has jointly commissioned an independent study into the spatial requirements of wind/solar versus nuclear energy and their respective costs with colleague MEP Ondřej Knotek of the Renew group. A team of experts came to the conclusion that it is practically impossible to provide enough energy with renewables.
The study includes a case study done for two EU member states: The Netherlands, a country along the North Sea with abundant wind, and the Czech Republic, a landlocked country with no access to sea and a geographical more challenging landscape. In realistic scenarios, there is not enough land to meet all power demand if the Czech Republic and The Netherlands were to rely solely or predominantly on wind and solar power.
The study, co-initiated by Dutch ECR MEP Rob Roos and peer-reviewed in part by, among other respected scientists, Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus, finds that nuclear energy is also more cost-effective than renewables. Even if taking into account major efficiency improvements in solar and wind farms, nuclear energy will remain the cheaper option in 2050. In this comparison, the enormous costs for adapting the electricity grid, such as connecting wind turbines at sea or solar parks on land, are not even included. That price tag is also invariably lower for nuclear energy.
“Nuclear energy is always available, cheaper and saves the landscape. Moreover, further research into, for example, the thorium molten salt reactor offers enormous opportunities for our export position. Let’s invest our tax money in that,” says MEP Roos.
At the moment, sun and wind energy are being pushed and nuclear energy is being held back. The study contains several policy recommendations for the European Commission to change its approach.
The study also concluded that EU 2050 climate neutrality, if achieved, will likely cause only a very small decrease in the average global atmospheric temperature increase, estimated at between 0.05°C and 0.15°C in 2100, and no more than between 0.02°C and 0.06°C in 2050, assuming no carbon leakage occurs. Electricity-generating technologies therefore should be evaluated for the degree to which they constitute ‘no regrets’ solutions.
The study is now available for download on the website www.roadtoclimateneutrality.eu.
16 July 2021