The transition to cleaner and more sustainable energy production poses a huge challenge to Europe and the world. This will be the case for several decades, as global energy demand continues to increase.
EU funding in 2009
The related technology challenges are being coordinated at the EU level through the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan), which is an integral part of EU energy policy and covers nuclear as well as non-nuclear technology options. In this context, the Euratom programme manages the EU’s contribution to both fusion and fission research activities and is fully committed to the longer-term SET-Plan vision of a low-carbon society by 2050, with a reduction of up to 80 % in CO2 emissions.
Nuclear fission is the process responsible for generating energy in today’s nuclear power stations. The nuclei of heavy atoms split into smaller fragments, and by carefully controlling this process on an industrial scale, the large quantities of energy released (according to Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2) can be used to generate electricity. Nuclear power is the world’s principal carbon-free source of electricity, currently accounting for about one third of the electricity produced in Europe. It therefore plays a key role in limiting greenhouse gas emissions and securing Europe’s energy independence.