As global markets place more emphasis on the risks of climate change, the EU has become more conscious of its carbon footprint than ever before. The EU has stated that by 2030, they will cut carbon emissions by at least 55%. This, coupled with fuel shortages across the globe, has led to the question of where will our energy come from?
Renewable energy technologies such as solar, hydro and wind, are becoming more viable, however there are still barriers surrounding cost efficiencies and reliability. As the energy market explores solutions to this problem, we will begin to see a resurgence in nuclear energy.
In 2019, renewable energy represented 19.7 % of the 935 Mtoe (Million Tonnes of oil equivalent) of energy consumed in the EU, only 0.3 % short of the next years target of 20 %. Over the next decade, Europe will aim to increase this by an additional 12% (32% total), Increasing by 115.005 Mtoe from 184.195 to 299.2 Mtoe based on 2019’s figures.
Europe’s low carbon leaders; Sweden, Finland, and Latvia, are already sourcing half, and in some cases more than half, of their energy via renewable sources at 56.4%, 43.1% and 41% respectively, leaving tough competition for the rest of Europe. Region-wide carbon tax increases and proposed bans on gas appliances in the UK by 2025, tells the tale of an energy landscape more reliant on renewable sources.
However, there are still industries that are heavy producers of carbon that pose a challenge. For example, Sweden may struggle to phase carbon completely out as their transport sector, and the rest of Europe for that matter, still rely largely on fossil fuels. Transport makes up a huge 30.9% of Europe’s energy consumption, a large percentage that cannot be ignored. While there are solutions revolving around the electrification of our vehicles and implementation of low emission zones, these measures will hardly make enough of an impact on our emissions, especially when there are more immediate solutions within other industries.
Dating back to 2019, the sectors that account for approximately 70% of energy consumption are households, heavy industrial services and agriculture. The majority of this generated from traditional power plants. The transition to carbon-free must be a smooth one to meet energy demands whilst gradually reducing our emissions.
So how can Europe make this necessary transition smoothly? Through nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy has come a long way in the last decade, and is safer and more cost effective than ever. As a result, government officials in UK and France notice the importance in maintaining and developing nuclear energy sources when faced with the urgency of carbon emission reduction. Nuclear power plants are a competitive choice, especially when compared to their fossil fuel counterparts who are regulated and receive carbon taxing. Not only this, but after the costly construction price they are relatively inexpensive to run during their 60-year lifespan.
Global energy demands have been predicted to increase by 1.9% per annum until 2040. Additionally, 750,000 construction workers are said to retire between now and 2036. Nuclear projects such as Hinkley Point C as well as plans for Sizewell C will attempt to revitalize the industry by attracting younger workers, reinforcing the construction workforce, and helping meet energy demands whilst reducing emissions.
As a business, CCL always aims to support the wider economy and add value to our clients, especially as they expand into emerging or difficult markets. Even during the pandemic, our Nuclear division grew rapidly, and we offered continued support to projects like HPC, ITER, Sizewell C and OL3 across Europe. Our Nuclear team has over 15 years of recruitment industry specific experience and a network of over 50k qualified nuclear professionals. We are looking to grow further in coming months and will open new offices across the region, if you want to be part of this journey, get in touch with our recruitment team in London.
-Written by EMEA Associate Director, Zeeshan Mehtab (data sourced by Oliver Morse)
Sources and helpful links
Is Nuclear Power Poised for a Resurgence?
Nuclear Power Looks to Regain Its Footing 10 Years after Fukushima
Energy statistics – an overview
Hinkley Point C: how the megaproject can help fix the UK’s skills shortage
Nuclear Power Economics and Project Structuring 2017 Edition
Economics of Nuclear Power