Secretary of State confirms Nuclear is key to British energy’s future

Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
The Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Nuclear energy is key to the Government’s energy policy for the future. Talking to the Institute of Civil Engineers on 18 November. She stated that new build is key to deliver Government’s objectives to maintain security of supply and to deliver reductions in carbon emissions.

She explained that the Government is committed to enable the building of a new fleet nuclear plant that could provide up to 30% of the expected needs of electricity and create up to 30000 new jobs. With construction likely to start at Hinkley Point next year, Wylfa and Moorside to follow and further development expected at Sizewell and possibly Bradwell,  new nuclear will be a substantial part of electricity generation in the UK by 2025.

The Secretary of State told to civil engineers that the Government’s strategy is based on creating the conditions to develop a competitive market through less intervention, supporting only those technologies capable of delivering value for money without subsidies and nuclear energy is part of these technologies; she said that nuclear is both ‘safe and reliable’ and added that ‘the challenge, as with other low carbon technologies, is to deliver nuclear power which is low cost as well. Green energy must be cheap energy.’ The policy includes gas and renewables with a caveat, subsidies shall be kept to a minimum and only as far as the technology can prove itself good value for money, which puts great pressure on wind to reduce costs.

The Secretary of State also reiterated the Government’s commitment to decarbonisation and their view that coal generation is not sustainable in the longer term, they are planning is to restrict its use from 2023 and close all coal power stations by 2025 substituting them with gas.

The speech also contained the Government’s commitment to research and development, aiming at making the UK a centre for global nuclear innovation, including exploring new opportunities like Small Modular Reactors, which hold the promise of low cost, low carbon energy.

The Secretary of State also talked about the need to reach a deal on decarbonisation at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris later on this month. She stressed that climate change is a global problem, not a local one, which makes international action critical to achieve progress, including cooperation at European Union level.  She said, “Paris must deliver a clear signal that the future is low carbon that unleashes the levels of private investment and local action needed.

“Collective action works when you share the burden fairly, but also when each makes a distinctive contribution.”

The industry has welcomed the Government support for new nuclear build and the inclusion of nuclear as a key element to deliver its energy policy objectives. Commenting on the Secretary of State’s speech, Keith Parker, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) said:

“The NIA welcomes the Government’s commitment to the nuclear sector. If we are to decarbonise our power systems, nuclear must play a major role in achieving this.

“New power stations will maintain energy security as well as create jobs and prosperity. The momentum behind investment in new build must continue as all but one of the UK’s current nuclear fleet will be shut down in the 2020’s. It is imperative this capacity is replaced to maintain nuclear power’s dependable low-carbon contribution to keeping the UK’s lights on.

“But we must also look to the future and today’s commitment to nuclear research and development and exploring Small Modular Reactor development will keep the UK at the forefront of global nuclear innovation.”