Debate over nuclear energy regains footing

Debate over nuclear energy regains footing

With soaring electricity prices bringing back the nuclear option as part of the energy mix in the European debate, Greece will strive to break what has been a taboo subject.

Tellingly, international opinion polls show public opinion in Greece to be among the most negative in the world, and one can reasonably understand the difficulty of any political leadership to open any discussion on the inclusion of the nuclear option in national energy planning.

Indicative of this difficulty were the remarks by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis last December regarding cooperation with Bulgaria for a long-term agreement for the supply of electricity from nuclear power, when he sought to assure that Greece has no nuclear plants and will never acquire them. 

Against this backdrop, the Energy Committee of the Academy of Athens is seeking to break the taboo with its proposal “Prospects for Nuclear Energy in the Electricity Generation Mix,” which lays the foundations for a public discussion in Greece, answering fundamental questions raised by critics regarding accidents, waste etc. It also proposes starting the procedures to create the appropriate institutional and technological foundations so that it will be possible to responsibly assess developments in neighboring countries and Greece’s readiness for any future eventuality.

The debate to revive nuclear power as a “necessary evil” to tackle the problem of high electricity prices and support the goals of energy transition has been reignited a decade after the Fukushima disaster sparked nuclear reactor withdrawal policies across Europe.

Tellingly, the European Commission has labeled nuclear and gas as sustainable, to the chagrin of some critics who have called the step “greenwashing.”

Nuclear energy currently accounts for 25% of the electricity produced in Europe, being a key component of the energy mix of 13 of the 27 member-states.

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