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February 04, 2011

Europe plans to spend one trillion euros by 2020 for energy grid upgrades and nuclear included as a core part of the plan

The European Commission, steering EU energy policy, says about 1tn euros (£850bn; $1.4tn) will have to be invested over the next 10 years to modernise energy generation and supply. The EU has set itself a "20-20-20" goal: a 20% cut in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020, compared with 1990 levels; a 20% increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix; and a 20% cut in energy consumption

North-south energy connections are seen as a priority - to link the Baltic energy market to the rest of Europe and to help develop South-East Europe, where many people live in energy poverty, spending a relatively high amount of income on fuel bills. A high-tech power grid -- estimated to cost about 200 billion euros -- to carry wind power from the north and solar power from the Mediterranean to central cities such as Paris and Prague.



The EU is the world's largest regional energy market -- 500 million people and 20 million companies. Governments committed to a broad sweep of market reforms, linking national and regional electricity grids and gas pipelines by 2014 to allow power to circulate freely and cheaply, from those who produce it and have surpluses to those who don't and need it.

Alongside investment in renewable energy technologies, EU states will also promote "safe and sustainable low-carbon technologies" -- this including nuclear -- under climate action goals. France and the UK have gotten agreement to reposition domestically-produced nuclear energy at the heart of the bloc's long-term supplies.

The political mood now, amid greater questioning of scientific evidence, is for a more substantial use of the nuclear alternative.

"Nuclear is not a renewable source," said a senior official under commission head Jose Manuel Barroso of post-2050 guidelines, but "the make-up of national energy mixes is a matter of national choice."

Europe sends 2.5 percent of its GDP overseas each year for energy imports but should rein that in, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told leaders at the EU's first energy summit. That equates to 270 billion euros ($372 billion) a year for oil and 40 billion euros for gas.

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