Europe still buying Nuclear energy from Russia
For the first time in years, Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, did not receive an invitation to the Munich summit. This is supposedly Europe’s retaliation against Russia for its role in the conflict in Ukraine. Nevertheless, Europe hasn’t spoken much about how much of its nuclear fuel it gets from Russia. While Europe has sanctioned Russia, by continuing to purchase nuclear fuel from Russia, it has left a gap in its sanctions policy.
With about 20% of the EU’s uranium imports in 2021, Russia was the third-largest supplier of nuclear fuel to the EU. Moreover, Russia’s market share has grown by another 20% during the past year. For this gasoline, the EU gave Russia more than 330 million dollars. Almost 100 million Europeans receive their electricity from utilities that rely on Rosatom, a Russian nuclear powerhouse, for supplies.
Uranium, and particularly the isotope uranium-235, is essential to nuclear power plants. The West is dependent on Russian uranium and likes it. In actuality, approximately 43% of the EU’s nuclear resources are under Russian control, including roughly 50% of Kazakhstan’s uranium mining, the EU’s second-largest source of uranium. The strongest friend of Ukraine, the United States, purchases 15% of its uranium needs from Russia.
Moreover, Russia is a world leader in offering nuclear enrichment services to different nations. In 2021, the US purchased about 28% of these services from Russia, while in 2020, the EU purchased 26% of Russian nuclear enrichment services. These figures demonstrate how much more the world relies on Russia than it is willing to recognize for its nuclear needs.
In the past ten years, Russia has also initiated 19 nuclear power plant projects, 15 of which were started by other nations. As a result, Russia is now the world’s leader in the construction of nuclear power plants. Nonetheless, questions have been raised regarding the security of Russia’s nuclear power reactors, notably in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Notwithstanding the fact that nuclear energy has lower greenhouse gas emissions than other energy sources, it is not without risk. Many people are worried about nuclear safety and the possibility of accidents, which is why several nations have started to phase out nuclear energy. For instance, Germany has said that all of its nuclear power units will be shut down by 2022.
But for the time being, Russia continues to provide a significant amount of Europe’s nuclear fuel needs. Russia, which views the EU’s reliance on its nuclear fuel as a source of leverage, has taken note of this. As a result, it is imperative that Europe look into alternative energy sources and lessen its dependency on Russia for nuclear fuel.
In conclusion, despite the fact that Europe has sanctioned Russia, by continuing to buy Russian nuclear fuel, it has left a large gap in its sanctions system. Concerns regarding Europe’s ability to preserve energy security and its susceptibility to Russian influence arise from the EU’s reliance on Russia for nuclear fuel. Europe must look at alternative energy options and lessen its dependency on Russia for nuclear fuel. The world must work toward a sustainable and safe future for energy in order to address the problem of nuclear safety and the possibility for mishaps.