*** Please find more information about the various financing models used in European countries in this briefing and read more in the full report.

Brussels, 19 June 2024 – Nuclear power is a risky gamble with taxpayers’ cash, according to a comprehensive review of financing models published as the European Investment Bank prepares to discuss new support for nuclear energy at a meeting on 21 June.

The report, Fission for Funds: The Financing of Nuclear Power Plants, gives an overview of financing models and reveals how the profitability of nuclear power plants heavily relies on government involvement in de-risking investments. The report was commissioned by Greenpeace Germany and carried out by Jens Weibezahn from the Copenhagen School of Energy Infrastructure, and Björn Steigerwald from the Technische Universität Berlin.

Greenpeace EU political campaigner Lorelei Limousin said: “Nuclear power is a black hole for taxpayers and consumers. High upfront costs, long construction times, and government bailouts make nuclear projects a burden on public coffers and a threat to credible climate action. Wind and solar energy are already much cheaper, and their cost is declining. Not a single euro of EU public money should go to nuclear power – it’s time to put people’s needs ahead of nuclear greed, and invest in a safer, cheaper future.”

The report shows that nuclear power plant projects are unreliable due to budget overruns, construction delays, and reliability problems in the operational phase, and therefore often lose investor interest. Hidden costs are also often not included in initial calculations, such as liability insurance, decommissioning and waste management. These become a burden for taxpayers in the future. The report highlights that the cost of solar and wind energy are already much lower than new nuclear projects.

Jens Weibezahn, Assistant professor Ph.D., Copenhagen Business School, co-author of the report, said: “In our review of current nuclear power plant projects, we found that almost all financing models rely – either directly or indirectly – on government support to make them viable. This places an unreasonable burden on either taxpayers or electricity ratepayers, as they, ultimately, bear a large part of the associated financial risks.

Although most global economies are focusing on renewables  to reach net-zero targets, some EU countries, such as France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, are betting on nuclear power, despite major issues in securing funding for new projects and maintaining their existing ageing fleets. This report highlights that government support for these costly, long-term, and high-risk nuclear projects is becoming harder to justify, particularly at a time of high inflation and rising cost of living.

In the past two decades, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has invested €845 million in nuclear power activities. For the first time, the EIB intends to support research and development in so-called small modular reactors (SMRs), according to a draft strategic roadmap, which will be adopted on 21 June. Many uncertainties persist regarding the overall economic viability of SMRs, not to mention safety risks and the radioactive waste problem. Greenpeace calls on EU finance ministers, who govern the EIB, to oppose any funding for nuclear energy, including small modular reactors.

*** Please find more information about the various financing models used in European countries in this briefing and read more in the full report


Lorelei Limousin – Greenpeace EU political campaigner: +324770790415, [email protected] 

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]

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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning network that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. We do not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties. Greenpeace has over three million supporters, and 26 independent national and regional organisations with offices in more than 55 countries.

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