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    Review of 'Decarbonising the EU Power Sector: a Technological and Socio-economic Analysis and the Role of Nuclear'

    Decarbonising the EU Power Sector: a Technological and Socio-economic Analysis and the Role of NuclearCrossref
    Good overview of the evolution of the energy system in Europe and the role of nuclear technology
    Average rating:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of importance:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of validity:
        Rated 4 of 5.
    Level of completeness:
        Rated 3 of 5.
    Level of comprehensibility:
        Rated 5 of 5.
    Competing interests:

    Reviewed article

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    Decarbonising the EU Power Sector: a Technological and Socio-economic Analysis and the Role of Nuclear

    Low-carbon electricity is a key enabler in combating climate change. Decarbonising the power sector is now at the centre of global and European policies. As the IPCC highlights, pathways where the power sector rapidly decarbonises by 2030 have higher chances of keeping global warming below 1.5°C. The electricity sector should be fully decarbonised by 2050 to meet either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets. This means that EU policy efforts should focus on supporting a maximum reduction of emissions per unit of electricity by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. Reaching these targets is one of the most pressing questions EU policymakers face today. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, EU policies should guide a cost-effective, reliable and environmentally sound transition of the power sector, benefiting EU research and innovation and its citizens. This meta-analysis provides a novel view on historical data and compares data from modelling scenarios identified in the literature. It assesses the current and future role of nuclear energy in decarbonizing the EU power sector, while reviewing socio-economic implications that could arise if limited public support nearly excludes nuclear fission electricity from the future EU power mix. This work highlights relevant socio-economic policy implications and actionable policy recommendations.

      Review information

      This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com.

      Environmental economics & Politics
      Energy system costs,Decarbonisation scenarios,Power sector,Systems modelling,Energy and climate,Energy and policy,Climate change,Socio-economic costs,EU Green Deal,Electrification,Nuclear energy,EU energy policy
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      Review text

      The paper provides a good overview of the evolution of the electricity sector in Europe using historic data and the results of scenarios from energy models. It also provides an assessment of the role of nuclear fission technology.

      The historical evolution of the sector provides good insights into the underlying trends of the decarbonization process in teh different sectors which is very interesting.

      The future evolution of the electricity sector is analyzed using the energy scenarios published by the EC. The main limitation is that they come from the work of the same modeling team (E3M Lab). A review of alternative scenarios for Europe published by other modeling teams would be a good added value for the paper. 

      The analysis of the role of nuclear technology is based just on one study ( the one produced by FTI consulting). A short explanation of the modeling framework followed in this study and the main hypothesis would be very beneficial. In particular, the need for a flexible operation of the nuclear power plants and substantially reduced investment costs should be mentioned.

      When it comes to the analysis of socioeconomic externalities, the text only shows the jobs lost in the nuclear industry but no mention is done of the employment associated with the deployment of renewables and storage technologies that are much more employment-intensive than nuclear technology. Similarly, the source of data for the estimation of potential externalities associated with land use and atmospheric emissions is not detailed. 

      The final point is that no mention is done on the potential costs, both direct and external associated with the management of nuclear waste, and the potential risk of severe accidents is not even mentioned.





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