The European Union’s new generation nuclear power plans will require a €500bn investment by 2050, according to the bloc’s internal market commissioner.
The regeneration plan forms part of the bloc’s bid to decarbonise its energy grid, with Thierry Breton urging that the EU’s labelling of nuclear energy as ‘green’ alternatives will be vital for drawing in capital.
“Existing nuclear plants alone will need €50bn of investment from now until 2030. And new generation ones will need €500bn,” Breton told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
France, where nuclear power is the main energy supplier, has batted off scepticism from Austria and Germany, where plants are being shut down.
Germany closed three of its last six nuclear power stations last week, after the meltdown of a reactor in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 sped up its withdrawal from nuclear.
Scotland has followed suit, shuttering its Hunterston B power station on Friday after 46 years, which has cut the UK’s nuclear capacity by an eighth.
The EU sources around 26 per cent of its energy from nuclear power, but the figure is forecast to dwindle to just 15 per cent, Breton added.
It comes as European Central Bank executive Isabel Schnabel cautioned that the planned transition away from fossil fuel to low-carbon alternatives could hike up inflation.
Amid a wholesale gas pricing crisis in Europe, which began half-way through last year, Schnabel warned that policies to tackle climate change could keep energy prices higher for longer.
It may also force the European Central Bank to abandon its stimulus more quickly than planned.
However, the Bank’s chief executive Philip Lane disagrees, and anticipates that energy prices will fade.
Lane told Irish broadcaster RTE on Friday that while runaway energy prices were “a major concern”, there was “less upside this year”. He added that he was confident the “supply will shift” and “pressures should ease in the aggregate this year”.
The Bank has therefore pledged to hold up its loose monetary policy for at least another year.