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Europe faces €253bn nuclear waste bill via The Guardian

Disposal and decommissioning of plants in EU’s 16 nuclear nations outstrips available funds by €120bn, European commission study reveals

Europe is facing a €253bn bill for nuclear waste management and plant decommissioning which outstrips available funds by €120bn, according to a major stock-take of the industry by the European commission.

The sum breaks down into €123bn for the decommissioning of old reactors and €130bn for the management of spent fuel, radioactive waste and deep geological disposal processes.

Of the EU’s 16 nuclear nations, only the UK had enough money ring-fenced to cover the coming financial crunch, according to the Nuclear Illustrative Programme of the Commission (Pinc), which covers trends to 2050.

Greenpeace EU’s energy policy adviser Tara Connolly said: “The €120bn figure is a whopping shortfall but it’s not surprising given that there is still no workable solution for the nuclear waste problem. With the huge resources needed to keep nuclear power alive, Europe could make a lot of progress towards a 100% renewable energy system instead.”

Some 90% of the continent’s nuclear plants are set to shut by 2050 – almost half within the next decade – and the paper sets out a daunting picture of the scale of the challenge facing nuclear power: up to €500bn will be needed to meet the cost of new plant builds and lifetime extensions, it says.

By 2050, a 47% increase in the cost of additional capacity is foreseen, combined with a 20% reduction in nuclear’s contribution to Europe’s electricity mix.

[…]

At present, nuclear reactors make up 27% of Europe’s energy capacity and produce less carbon over their lifetime than fossil fuels such as gas, coal or oil. But no solution has yet been found for the long-term storage of radioactive waste.

The commission’s experts considered closed fuel recycling of plutonium and uranium in ‘fast breeder reactors’ so long-term and uncertain a prospect that they did not forecast possible scenarios for its becoming available this century.

That leaves Europe with an increasingly haggard fleet of large scale reactors, whose average age is over 30 years.

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