The new classification of gas and nuclear as green energy is underway. Strasbourg parliament includes them among green investments
The European Parliament confirmed a few weeks ago the taxonomy of sustainable investments as proposed by the European Commission. With the complementary delegated act, under which gas and nuclear are included in the green investment classification on a par with wind and solar, the EU stated, in the words of Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, that “we want to ensure that private investment in gas and nuclear, which is necessary for our energy transition, meets strict criteria. Investment in renewables is already a priority in our taxonomy: this is our future. Our proposal provides transparency so that investors know what they are investing in’. However, the proposal does not only aim to include these sources in the list of sustainable energies, but also attempts to outline new future guidelines and the necessary criteria and conditions for implementing the energy transition process.
Despite the confirmation that the inclusion of some natural gas and nuclear activities will remain limited in time and depend on specific conditions, the Europarliament’s decision has raised numerous criticisms, mainly concerning the actual sustainability of fossil gas and nuclear power. These energy resources have always suffered from the prejudice of a lack of clarity, which does not take into account the enormous technological progress that continues to be made, especially with regard to the disposal of the waste produced by the fission process and its subsequent storage in isolated and secure repositories.
However, in a scenario of energy supply crisis such as the one we are currently experiencing, fossil gas and nuclear energy, which are two of the main sources of primary energy because they do not involve any energy transformation as they are already present in nature in a pure state, must be considered as viable alternatives, not least because of the advantages they provide.
Fossil gas is the second most widely used energy source after oil. Easily used and transformed into secondary energy sources, it has a simple storage process: the energy supplied is therefore much cheaper than that from other sources, as well as being significantly more flexible. New technological processes are acting on network efficiency and sustainability; thanks to the implementation of biomethane supply chain processes, we are witnessing a virtuous circularity and optimisation in the use of resources.
With regard to the use of nuclear power, on the other hand, the question of advantages and disadvantages is, especially in public opinion, more difficult to fit into a strategic Green New Deal framework, which takes the form of a pact between citizens and businesses in order to improve the relationship between energy security, environmental protection and energy accessibility. While the use of nuclear power makes it possible to produce large amounts of energy at low cost – it is estimated that one power plant can meet the needs of one or more medium-sized cities -, it also ensures a significant decrease in CO2 emissions, reducing the environmental impact considerably. Furthermore, although start-up is capital intensive, the fact that the life of a plant is very long and with low running costs, it is possible to amortise the initial investment. There is also a geopolitical factor that should not be overlooked: nuclear power plants become secure and continuous sources of electricity, guaranteeing the various states that host them energy independence from foreign supplies.