Szijjarto: Energy crisis highlights importance of nuclear energy

The importance of nuclear energy in ensuring supply security and a green transition has been made clear by the "largest ever" energy crisis hitting Europe, Peter Szijjarto, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, told the 7th Central & Eastern Europe Nuclear Industry Congress in Prague on Monday.

In his address, Szijjarto called on the European Commission to ensure that nuclear energy will not “in any way” be restricted by the sanctions imposed on Russia after it attacked Ukraine in February, the ministry said. The exemption was declared when the sanctions were adopted, and all EU and national institutions should respect that, Szijjarto said.

“Delaying or hampering nuclear investments can in effect harm the sovereignty of European states, of which energy security is a key element,” Szijjarto said.

Hungary sees nuclear energy, and the upgrade of its nuclear plant in Paks, as key to its energy security, and the institutions slowing the works are harming its sovereignty, he said.

Due to the war in Ukraine and Brussels’ sanctions policy, Europe is now facing the “most severe energy crisis of its history”, which is now casting doubts on the continent’s energy security, he said. Europe’s “overly comfortable” approach to energy supplies has also played a role, he said. Long-term contracts were replaced by spot market deals, transport infrastructure is patchy, and green transition has become a political trend rather than a professional issue, he said.

Under those circumstances, countries will be the best off and most secure if they are able to produce the energy they consume, he said.

This way, nuclear energy will become even more important, as it provides an escape from “utterly irrational international energy prices”. Hungary is therefore working to increase the capacity of its plant as soon as possible, he added.

“Nuclear energy is a safe, cheap and sustainable way to produce energy,” he said. “The European Green Deal cannot be implemented without nuclear energy.”

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