Policies & Politics
Major nuclear energy projects have been included in a list of priority investments that could be financed over the next three years as part of a €315 billion investment plan outlined recently by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
Among the projects on the list, prepared by a task force set up by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, together with EU member states, are three nuclear new-build projects in the UK (Hinkley Point C, Moorside and Wylfa), as well as Poland’s first nuclear power plant construction programme.
The list says nuclear new-build projects face problems raising debt because of high construction costs and a long payback period. A possible solution would be European Investment Bank debt guarantees or guarantees for developers and supply chain.
R&D projects on the list are Myrrha (Belgium), the first-ever prototype particle accelerator-driven reactor; Allegro (Central Europe), a gas-cooled fast breeder reactor prototype; and Pallas (the Netherlands), a research reactor that will produce more than 60 percent of Europe’s medical radioisotopes.
The aim of Myrrha, for which detailed engineering and realisaton in scheduled to start in 2018, is to demonstrate the feasibility of accelerator-driven systems on an industrially relevant scale. It will also be used for material and fuel research and testing, notably in relation to the safety of current and future fission and fusion reactors.The Allegro project is run by a consortium of research institutes in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland. In May 2010 a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for the preparatory phase of Allegro was signed in Budapest. The agreement covered work concerning the selection of a specific site and the overall organisation of work for Allegro.
Pallas, for which national and regional governments have already provided €80 million in early stage financing, will replace the ageing High-Flux Reactor at Petten, which provides around 60 percent of European demand for medical radioisotopes and 30 percent of global demand.
The EC said Pallas will provide nuclear research and irradiation services for public and private R&D in medical isotopes, industrial isotopes and nuclear security.
Licensing for Pallas will start in 2015 with procurement for construction and the start of construction planned for 2017-2018.
Also on the list is the refurbishment of the BR2 research reactor at Mol in Belgium.
The EC said producers of the vital medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo99), which is used in cancer treatment, are facing an unstable economic structure that is threatening long-term security of supply. Belgium is committed to invest in its production infrastructure to secure the supply of Mo99 until at least 2025-2030, the EC said.
Proposed projects will be assessed and a final report presented to EU heads of state and governments at the European Council later this week.