Europe to Stress Test Nuclear Power Stations

Aerial photo of the Gösgen Nuclear Power Plant from the south-westThe EU’s Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, announced yesterday that the union will conduct a series of stress tests upon its nuclear power stations later in the year.  He described the tests as “extraordinary” and said they would include the impact of earthquakes and high water.

The tests will also be conducted on the nuclear power stations of neighbouring non-EU countries, including Switzerland, Turkey and Russia.

The announcement was made during a special session of the EU’s Committee of Industry, Reaserch and Industry yesterday.  Mr Oettinger will address the Environment Committee today.

Germany also confirmed yesterday that it will shut down all seven of its nuclear reactors built before 1980: six for at least three months and one permanently.

Stefan Watcher, an analyst for Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, has predicted that a prolonged nuclear shutdown would drive up long term carbon prices in the EU as countries purchased more emissions permits to counterbalance their renewed reliance upon coal and gas.

The future of nuclear power is already the subject of intense debate in the EU with some seeing it as the only way to create a low carbon economy.  Greenpeace released a policy document in January detailing how a Europe-wide renewables-only and nuclear-free energy grid could be built by 2050.

Picture Credit: KKG-SW-Flight by Aare-Tessin AG für Elektrizität under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License.

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