Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Europe should diversify energy supply strategy

Updated: 2011-03-17 08:55

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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BRUSSELS - Europe should learn from the nuclear crisis in Japan by diversifying its energy supply strategy and making full use of renewable sources, experts said.

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"We need to learn more from the unprecedented nuclear plant explosion," said Pierre Defraigne, executive director of Brussels-based Madariaga-College of Europe Foundation.

Defraigne, a renowned expert on the international economy, told China Daily: "That's a big topic, and the debate should start now."

On Tuesday, EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said EU member states had agreed to a series of "stress tests" of the region's nuclear power plants.

The tests are likely to assess the risks that earthquakes, tsunamis, terror attacks and power cuts pose to European nuclear plants. Other variables will include the suitability of cooling systems and operational activities, the requirements for back-up systems and overall plant design.

The decision was taken at a meeting of member states, and industry and national regulatory officials in Brussels on Tuesday, convened by the German commissioner following events in Japan.

"We want to organize a series of tests, very comprehensive tests throughout the union. We also want tests for our partner states, our neighbors," Oettinger told journalists after the meeting.

EU examinations will be carried out before the end of this year, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreeing to take the matter up at the G20 level, said Oettinger. He added that EU leaders meeting in Brussels next week were also likely to discuss the issue of nuclear safety.

On Monday, the German government decided to delay plans to extend the life of seven nuclear plants until an independent review is carried out.

Decisions on whether to use nuclear energy are taken by individual EU member states. At present there are roughly 150 reactors in the EU, spread over roughly half as many nuclear power plants.

"With such a large number of nuclear reactors, we should reconsider our energy supply strategy," said Frederic Carlier, an expert from Belgium-based FCA Consultancy Services.

"Our mindset needs further improvement. We need to focus on the safety of the lives of 500 million Europeans in the bloc," said Carlier.

"We have so many living in low-lying and coastal areas."

Carlier expected more public debate following the Japanese disasters.

Portuguese State Secretary for the Environment Humberto D. Rosa said: "In the light of the nuclear meltdown in Japan, member states need to reconsider their energy policy and related security measures."

Rosa added: "Nuclear power is neither a safe option, nor is it sustainable."

He added that in the past decades, the world has not managed to prevent accidents and to find a solution for the storage of highly toxic nuclear waste.


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