European Green calls decision to build nuclear reactors in Hungary “deplorable”

January 24, 2014

Butikofer

German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer: The decision to build new nuclear reactors in Hungary is “deplorable”.

Germany is now, and has been for several years, a net exporter of energy. We’re exporting more than we ever did. The increase in renewables is far outweighing the decrease in nuclear.

There are studies by the European Commission that show that not only can a more ambitious CO2 reduction, energy efficiency, and renewables policy create many more jobs in Europe, it could also reduce the dependency on Russia to a great degree. I think Hungarians should think about all three dimensions.  

   – German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, Budapest, 23 January 2014

Benjamin Novak of the Budapest Beacon interviewed German MEP and co-chairman of the European Green Party Reinhard Bütikofer at the ‘Green Jobs Conference’ held in Budapest yesterday and today and on the decision to build two new 1200 mw nuclear reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary.  The full audio interview and its transcript can be found here.

According to Bütikofer in order “to develop and preserve European competitiveness in the medium- and long-term” it must be built on the “concept and practice of sustainability.”  He says all the political parties in Germany have become “antinuclear” and that all the “anxieties” over whether there would be enough electricity if Germany phases out nuclear energy “were proven wrong because of a strong development of renewables.”

Germany is now, and has been for several years, a net exporter of energy. We’re exporting more than we ever did. The increase in renewables is far outweighing the decrease in nuclear.

Bütikofer cites a letter he received from the president of the German Electrical and Electric Manufacturers Association in which he writes that a third of the small and medium enterprises would not exist today were it not for Germany’s renewable energy policy. “It gives us business, it gives us profits, it gives us an opportunity to create new jobs”.

Bütiokofer says renewable energy is helping to resuscitate the German economy.

We create new competition which reduces cost of energy. We create a whole new class of entrepreneurs who . . . prevent monopolistic or oligopolistic control of the market.

He warns that Europe will lose out if it does not “speed up and keep abreast with progress”. He says that from the point of view of investment and patents, “Europe is in danger of losing out to the US, Japan, and China”.

On the EUR 12 billion no-bid contract to build two 1200 mw reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary awarded by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, Bütikofer had the following to say:

It’s most deplorable from three aspects.

First, it’s the wrong kind of energy, and it will cement the wrong kind of development for decades. It will stand in the way of a more progressive energy policy. It will stand in the way of renewables for instance, where Hungary has a greater potential than all its neighbors. So, they’re wasting the best opportunities.

Second, it’s completely undemocratic. The way the decision was made smells authoritarian. It was without a tender, it was without a debate in parliament, it was without public discourse, without a feasibility study, no referendum, nothing. Just two leaders behind closed doors. Undemocratic and non-transparent.

Thirdly, it makes Hungary much more dependent on Russia. I think Hungarians should think about that too. Look, Mr Orban said he doesn’t want to be a colony of Brussels. Now, what exactly is his relationship going to be to Moscow then? I mean, aren’t we just witnessing what Moscow is doing with their neighbors when we look at what’s happening in Kiev? Haven’t we been able to understand that the present government in Russia led by Mr Putin is trying to use energy policy to create new dependencies, to resuscitate and reestablish old imperial grandeur not on the basis of using old military tools, but rather using economic tools, in particular energy.

There are studies by the European Commission that show that not only can a more ambitious CO2 reduction, energy efficiency, and renewables policy create many more jobs in Europe, it could also reduce the dependency on Russia to a great degree. I think Hungarians should think about all three dimensions.