In reality, green energy (often referred to as "clean energy") is a source of energy whose generation only produces low levels of pollution in comparison to other, more polluting sources (coal, oil and gas). However, generation is only part of the production cycle of a "green" energy. It does not take into account the resources used upstream during the construction phase, such as rare metals or ores, or the production of waste during operation, or the end-of-life phase of the source.
The term "green energy" usually refers to electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as hydroelectricity (dams), or wind, solar, geothermal or biomass energy. Green energy therefore has two major advantages: its low impact on the environment, and the fact that it presents an alternative to the increasingly scarce energy resources that we currently use in vast quantities on a global scale.
On February 2, 2022, the European Commission announced the establishment of a green label for nuclear and gas power plants that recognizes, under certain conditions, their contribution to the fight against climate change. The aim of the green taxonomy proposed by the Commission is clear: in order to meet its ambitious climate targets (zero net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050), the European Union must divest from fossil fuels and mobilize capital to finance the investments needed to shift to "green" technologies that are environmentally friendly.
A closer look at the taxonomy
The EU green taxonomy is a system for classifying sustainable economic activities, namely those that contribute to mitigating climate change. European investments will therefore be directed towards activities considered to be sustainable, and which contribute to one of the following six objectives:
"To achieve its objective of carbon neutrality by 2050, the EU will have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030."
For Brussels, while renewable energies that have already received the European Commission label remain a priority, they will not by themselves be able to meet rising electricity demand due to their intermittent nature. Hence the need to promote investment
stable, controllable sources on a transitional basis.
Thanks to its robust production system, nuclear energy provides continuous electricity that can be adjusted to demand.
The sought-after label will be granted to research and development activities for the construction of new nuclear power plants (with a license granted before 2045), and projects to extend the operating life of plants (approved before 2040). The European Commission will also impose conditions regarding the management of radioactive waste. It is planning to review the technical parameters to be respected by new power plants every 10 years from 2025.
The latest IPCC report and the Glasgow Climate Pact signed at the end of COP26 stressed the vital need to lower our CO2 emissions by 2030. It is therefore urgent to prioritize the types of energy that can contribute to this objective. While no source of energy is 100% green,
nuclear energy and renewables are a winning combination to fight global warming and counteract our dependance on fossil fuels.