MOSCOW – The Paris Climate Agreement provides an opportunity for nuclear energy as countries try to reduce CO2 emissions, France’s Areva NP CEO Bernard Fontana told New Europe.

“The Paris Agreement is important for climate for sure,” he said on the sidelines of the Atomexpo forum in Moscow on June 20. Fontana would not comment on the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris accord. “I have no comment on US situation. In any case, I believe that nuclear has a role to play to provide as a source of energy without carbon and our teams are dedicated to make it work as a decarbonised source, safe, sustainable and economically efficient,” he said. “So far there is not really a solution to replace nuclear so it is a question of a mix between nuclear and other sources of energy and I believe nuclear has a role also in Europe,” he added.

Fontana said that today in France nuclear is the most important source of energy. France derives about 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy. This share may be reduced to 50% in the future. “There is still a lot of work to do to ensure this 50 percent in good quality, in absolute safety and in competitive way,” he said.

Asked about new kinds of terrorist threats, including hacking, Fontana said,

“It’s the nuclear safety spirit to take into account any kind of threat and to address them and that’s what we do”.

Meanwhile, New Nuclear Watch Europe Chairman Tim Yeo told New Europe that the Paris Agreement is a big opportunity for nuclear. “We’ve got clear commitments now from more countries than ever before to reduce their carbon emissions,” he said on the sidelines of Atomexpo. “It’s clear we can only reach that 2 degree centigrade target with significant new investment in nuclear so that option is absolutely here and now for the taking. I hope that countries will see that the cost of nuclear power is also falling,” he argued, referring to nuclear projects in EU countries Hungary and Finland.

“I also think that President Trump has come and opened the door a bit wider, too, because even though he’s saying: ‘I’m not going to stay in the Paris accord’, other countries are saying: ‘We’re determined to stay in that, we’re determined to play our part,’” Yeo quipped. “I’m very pleased that the European Union has said straight away: ‘We’re going to stick to our targets,’” he added.

“I have received two very senior delegations from China in London in the last four weeks, both of them think China can step in this gap as well. And I believe that here Rosatom can become a major supplier of nuclear at a time that there is a real expansion of nuclear,” he said.

Asked about the role of nuclear following the Paris Agreement, Kirill Komarov, Rosatom’s First Deputy Director General for Corporate Development and International Business, told New Europe on June 28 in a written response, “Regardless of the attitude that individual countries have toward the Paris Agreement, our planet today has no other way forward but to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear energy is carbon-free energy, both stable and immune to changeable weather conditions”.

follow on twitter @energyinsider