The executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, called on European countries with nuclear power plants to rethink their planned closures to reduce dependence on Russian gas for electricity generation.
“Nuclear energy is a part of the solution” both to ensure the European Union’s (EU) energy autonomy and to meet climate targets, Birol said at a conference in Paris with European ministers and commissioners to strengthen the EU-27’s autonomy and become less dependent on Russian hydrocarbon imports.
He congratulated Belgium for having been the first European country to announce that it is going to reconsider the dates for closing its atomic reactors, after the IEA included this option in a Decalogue published on the 3rd for the EU to reduce its purchases of Russian gas by more than a third in a year.
The executive director, who recalled that nuclear power plants provide 25% of the EU’s electricity, warned that if the policies currently planned are not modified, this percentage “will drop significantly” in the coming years.
That is why he considered the strategy presented a month ago by French President Emmanuel Macron to build at least six new reactors to replace those now in operation “a very good decision”
France has 56 reactors currently in service that generate about 70% of the country’s electricity.
Birol also said that the IEA will publish next week an “emergency plan,” also in ten points, for Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian oil.
Last week, the member countries had decided to withdraw 60 million barrels in one month from their strategic reserves to try to cushion the tensions in the market as a result of the war in Ukraine.
The head of the agency recalled that these 60 million barrels represent 4% of the IEA’s total strategic reserves, which offers room for new operations of this type.