Authors: The new EU climate and energy policy – sustainability performance of the different power generation technologies
Abstract: The objective of this article is to analyse factors influencing the sustainability performance of different energy sources in order to come to an effective decarbonisation of the fuel mix in a competitive manner. This is of course in the light of the new climate and energy policy of the EU and shall consider the most important energy sources currently used in Europe.
Neither a single current nor future energy source – be it nuclear, fossil, renewable or hydrogen – nor a single support technology, such as carbon capture and storage, can alone represent the remedy to cope with the challenges of increasing energy demand, increasing levels of greenhouse gas emissions and increasing dependence on fuel supply from outside Europe.
However, the different sources and related technologies can effectively complement each other. Nuclear power should thus be seen in combination with its alternatives. How the mixture is done in order to achieve an appropriate, ―sustainable‖ energy mix depends on the resources and local conditions of each country or region. There are, nevertheless, some basic commonalities and inevitable limiting conditions related to the specificities of the use of the various sources which should form the basis of any such decision-making and which will be introduced in this article.
Getting eventually to a decarbonised, non-fossil world will demand great determination, huge financial burden and true patience. But there is hope on the short- and mid-term horizons by means of effectively complementing and synchronising existing technologies, such as nuclear baseload electricity generation with other low CO2-intensive sources, e.g. some of the renewables.
On the long-term horizon, only large-scale technological innovation will help, including advanced nuclear technologies in combination with significantly improved renewables and technologies to store energy, to largely replace fossil fuels also as power source for non-electrical applications.