Research Tour: Climate change, war in Ukraine and the quest for energy security: What is the role of nuclear energy in Europe?

We are inviting: Journalists based in Europe
09 Oct - 12 Oct 2022
Germany, France, Switzerland
Import into your calendar

The nuclear phase-out in Germany seemed set to end decades of heated political debates, and satisfied a large majority in society, as well as among politicians and in the industry. Elsewhere, in Europe and other parts of the world, nuclear energy continues to play a major role; Germany’s phase-out is thus frequently considered as a mistake, also among climate activists. Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, and the ensuing energy crunch, has caused the long-standing debate on nuclear to resurface within the country.

But what role can nuclear play in Europe’s push towards climate neutrality? Currently, only 13 of the 27 EU Members operate nuclear power plants, and only two are building new ones. The Clean Energy Wire Research Tour for journalists offers insights into the plans, controversies and issues faced in three European countries which, in some ways, have vastly different approaches to nuclear power: The EU powerhouses Germany and France, and their fiercely independent neighbour Switzerland.

Application deadline: 12 September 2022. Applications are closed.

Nuclear power plant Grohnde by Preussenelektra. Photo: Preussenelektra

Find the final programme here.

The production of electricity from nuclear power plants has been declining in recent years, with China being a notable exception. Since 2007 no new reactor has commenced operation within the EU, and only two new plants are currently under construction. However, since the EU is trying to accelerate its move away from fossil fuel reliance, the discussion in many countries has changed, leading to the option of nuclear being put back on the agenda.

Following decades of conflict and one of the most drastic turnarounds in German political history, Germany has had plans to phase out its last three nuclear reactors by the end of this year since 2011. However, in the midst of the european energy crisis, the federal government is currently conducting a stress and security test in order to establish whether a short-term extension of several months would be an option to deliver some relief.

Stuttgart, where our tour starts, is one of the powerhouses of the German economy, currently governed by a green politician in his third term. EnBW, the regional energy company owned by the state and regional public stakeholders, has plans to phase out its last nuclear plant by the end of this year in line with the current legislation.

Neighbour Switzerland, meanwhile, has decided to take a different approach: whilst the country will not build any new nuclear power plants, it will continue to let the three existing ones (among them the oldest reactor in Europe) run as long as the supervision authority permits them to. The country also plans to decide finally where to store its nuclear waste in September, which will make it one of the first countries to do so.

In stark contrast, France has bet strongly on nuclear energy as a future energy source. However, the country is currently facing an energy shortage due to the fact that half of its reactors are either being renovated, or producing less energy because the rivers the need to cool the plants are running low amidst the record-breaking draught. Nevertheless, the reactor in Flamanville, which has been under construction for many years, seems to finally be ready to produce electricity, meanwhile there are plans for the construction of several new plants.

So, what is the future of nuclear power in Europe as the continent aims to become climate neutral by 2050?

In meetings with leading experts, policymakers, nuclear industry and NGO representatives, this research tour will provide insights into the live debate in all three countries and will help in finding answers to questions like: Is nuclear energy a solution to the current challenges? Can it replace the use of fossil fuels? And is it a way to reduce European dependency on Russia?


Frequently asked questions on how to apply, costs and logistics

Who is eligible for the research tour? And how can I apply?

The research tour is open for journalists from all over Europe (country of primary residence).

To apply, please click on the red  'Apply Here' button above that will take you to the webform.

Please note that applications in any other language than English will not be accepted.

By submitting your application, you agree that your name, associated media outlet, country of primary residence and email address will appear on the list shared with all participants if your application is successful. All data that is necessary to organize the tour will be shared with our partner Ecologic Institute.

What languages will be spoken during the tour?

All presentations during the workshop will be in English, or otherwise live translated into English.

Are there any costs for tour participants?

Participation in the research tour is free of charge. Furthermore, all expenses incurred during the tour, including food, accommodation and local transportion during the tour will be covered by the Clean Energy Wire.

What about travel arrangements?

Selected participants will organise their own travel to Brussels and back independently, and will be reimbursed for their expenses after the event. Do not book anything before you get the confirmation that you can take part. When arranging their travel, participants are kindly asked to consider climate friendly modes of transportation where viable and reasonable. Please keep in mind the budgetary constraints of up to 400 euro return connection for economy class travel. Participants who would like to cover their expenses on their own (travel, food, accomodation) can get an invoice on request after the tour.

The tour will start on 5 December at 6.30 p.m. and will end on 7 December around 5 p.m. 

All successful applicants will be notified on how to claim reimbursement ahead of the tour. It is generally not possible to reimburse the travel expenses in cash.

What are the deadlines?

Application deadline for applications is 6 November 2022. 

Please make sure to have access to your email, and do check the spam folder. If your application has been sucessful you will receive a confirmation email from CLEW not later than 9 November. In that event please confirm your participation until 12 pm CET+1 time on 13 November. Otherwise your place will be offered to another applicant.

What if I need a visa?

If you require a letter of invitation for your visa application, please let us know by sending an email to Please make sure you have a visa appointment at the embassy or consulate well before the research tour to leave enough time for processing your visa.

Note that we do not reimburse visa fees or insurance costs.

I get an error message saying I’m over the character limit, but I don’t think I am.

The character limit is specified in the boxes. Note that the limit includes paragraph breaks. If you have removed all paragraph breaks and are otherwise 100 percent certain that you are below the limit specified, try using a different internet server. For example, if you have previously tried submitting unsuccessfully via Google Chrome, try Firefox or Microsoft Edge or Safari.

I have submitted an application but have not received a confirmation of receipt.

Please check your spam folder for an automatically generated email, which asks you to confirm that you indeed submitted an application.

You will then hear from CLEW regarding the outcome of your application no later than 9 November 2022.

What are the rules of citation during the tour?

Interviews and public debate between journalists and speakers follow different rules and practices in different parts of the world. To make the context of our media trip clear for all involved, we would like to set out the following framework guiding the interaction with participating journalists:

Quotes and interviews

  • We work on the basis that statements made by participants can be quoted by the journalists present in their media reports. As a rule, conversations are “on the record”.
  • If speakers do not want to be quoted, we ask them to inform the participating journalists where this is the case. Remarks may then be made "off the record" and will not be quoted.
  • Outside Germany it is not common practice for journalists to seek authorisation for quotes before using them. If a speaker does require the participating journalists to check quotes with the speaker before publishing, we ask the speaker to advise journalists of this.

Photos, audio or video recordings

  • We respect journalists’ fundamental right not to disclose the sources of their research. Some of the participants also come from countries where press freedom is under threat and where journalists are prosecuted. As a safeguard to participants’ rights and their well-being, we kindly ask the speakers not to take any photos or to make any film or audio recordings on which participants can be individually identified.
  • If the speakers would like to take photos or make audio or video recordings of our visit, they approach a staff member for Clean Energy Wire so that we can agree on safe and workable solutions.
  • If there are restrictions to taking photos or to making audio or video recordings on the premises, we will inform participants.

Don't hesitate to get in contact with us at

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee