Czechs want to scrap deadline for nuclear energy in EU plan -report

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Steam billows from the cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the South Bohemian town of Tyn nad Vltavou, Czech Republic, June 20, 2016. REUTERS/David W Cerny

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PRAGUE, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic is pushing for the European Union to scrap proposed deadlines for investment in nuclear energy, a Czech newspaper reported on Friday, as the EU tries to come up with a plan to transition to fully renewable energy.

In a proposal on Dec. 31, the EU Commission allows gas and nuclear investments to facilitate an eventual transition to fully renewable output, but suggests deadlines beyond which investments in existing and new nuclear projects would not be allowed.

"The Czech Republic requests to leave out the statutes which suggest a transitory nature of nuclear energy, namely the 2045 deadline for new plants operating permits, and 2040 for the existing plants," the Czech government's response read, according to the Hospodarske Noviny daily newspaper.

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Industry Minister Jozef Sikela said that Prague welcomed the Commission's proposal to count nuclear and gas among sustainable sources, but asked for changes.

"We have asked for adjustments to the proposal to make it realistic and non-discriminatory," he said on Twitter, without mentioning the deadlines specifically.

The Czech Republic, along with France and Poland, say nuclear power has a big role to play given its lack of CO2 emissions, but other EU members including Austria, Germany and Luxembourg are concerned about radioactive waste.

In 2020, the Czech Republic generated 37% of its electricity from its two nuclear power plants, according to Energy Regulatory Office data.

Prague also wants to relax the proposals for gas, which is heavily used in heating. The Commission is pushing for at least 30% of the fuel to be derived from renewable or low-emission gases, mainly hydrogen, as of 2026, rising to 55% as of 2030.

The country's Association for District Heating has called on the government to have gas accepted as a transitory fuel in order to be able to exit from coal.

The final text should be adopted by the end of the month. After that, the text can be discussed with EU governments and parliament for up to six months.

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Reporting by Robert Muller;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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