By Sean Carney
PRAGUE--European Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Oettinger, Thursday said the European Union's goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and combat climate change can only be reached with an energy mix including nuclear power.
"Without a doubt nuclear energy belongs to the [mix]," Mr. Oettinger said. "In coming years reaching [climate] goals can't be done without nuclear power."
Mr. Oettinger's comments come as Europe faces serious economic headwinds partly due to fast-rising electricity prices for industry and retail consumers despite wholesale energy prices at record lows. This is largely due to the mass rollout of renewable power generation using technologies that are still unprofitable and require subsidies paid by end-users.
Mr. Oettinger said that each EU country has the right to choose its power generation sources.
His comments were delivered at a nuclear power conference in Prague and come as the Czechs are set this summer to choose a winner in a $10 billion tender to build two nuclear reactors in the country.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas, speaking at the conference, said nuclear power is a "completely legitimate" source of power and can play a role in the decarbonization of the European economy.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said that the use of nuclear energy is a sovereign decision for each country.
Slovakia is currently building two new reactors, which he said will increase the country's energy independence and will act as a key part of Slovakia's efforts to decarbonize the European economy.
Write to Sean Carney at email@example.com
Go to http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/ for the WSJ blog on Central and Eastern Europe, covering business, politics, society and more, written by our correspondents across the region.