Germany, along with six other EU countries, have rejected calls to include nuclear-made hydrogen in the bloc’s green transport targets. In a letter to the European Commission, Austria,

Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain stated their opposition to the inclusion of nuclear power in the calculation of green transport fuel targets. This move reignites a long-standing dispute with France, which is part of a group of nine EU countries calling for the exemption of nuclear-derived fuels from green transport targets in the renewable energy directive.

The pro-nuclear coalition, which includes Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, argues that their move is not intended to limit the potential of renewable hydrogen but to ensure that electrolysers installed in Europe can work at maximum capacity by drawing on both renewable and nuclear electricity sources.

France has pushed for the recognition of nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source alongside renewables. Paris launched a “nuclear alliance” earlier this month with 10 other EU member states, aiming to cooperate more closely along the entire nuclear supply chain and promote “common industrial projects” in new generation capacity.

The seven countries that reject the use of nuclear-derived fuels in calculating green transport fuel targets argue that low-carbon fuels should be left out of the renewable energy directive. They express their “clear opposition to the link between low-carbon fuels and [renewable energy] targets under Article 8a of the Gas Directive,” which is supported by France and the other pro-nuclear countries.

The seven countries argue that “counting low-carbon energy towards renewable targets would rather reduce our climate efforts and slow down investment in the much-needed additional renewable capacity”. They add that the renewable energy directive “does not prevent or prohibit Member States from using other low-carbon hydrogen and low-carbon fuels”.

The letter acknowledges that nuclear-derived hydrogen “may play a role in some member states” and that “a clear regulatory framework for them is needed”. However, they believe that this should be addressed in the ongoing revision of EU gas legislation.

The renewable energy directive is currently being held back over the definition of renewable hydrogen in the EU’s green transport targets. The disagreement between the seven countries and France highlights the ongoing struggle to reach a consensus on how to reduce the bloc’s carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy sources.