Power CEO says European energy policy is self-destructive

The new CEO of Franco-Belgian Solvay, has accused Germany, France and Belgium of acting in isolation on nuclear and gas policy and failing to come up with a coherent strategy to keep Europe’s companies competitive.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu says European failure to replicate the US approach is seeing the continent lose ground.

Jean-Pierre Clamadieu

Soaring energy costs and the failure of the continent’s governments to be “rational” about nuclear power and shale gas, the head of one of the world’s biggest chemicals groups has warned.

The chief executive of one of Europe’s largest power groups told the FT that the continent’s political leaders were paying “zero attention to competitiveness” when deciding energy policy.

Natural gas in the US is three times cheaper than in Europe because of its decision to exploit shale gas through the environmentally-controversial process of “fracking” – the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals to free up trapped gas.

“The fact that energy is cheap in the US, and probably will be for a long time, is changing the game,” Mr Clamadieu said. “Electricity’s getting more and more expensive in Europe, and some of the decisions that have been announced regarding nuclear energy production will certainly move the price in the wrong direction. For industry this is really a concern.”

He added that US industry’s advantage on energy prices also meant “you can’t just close the book and say we’ll never look at whether Europe has shale gas”, despite vocal environmental opposition.

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