Leave result doesn’t change the UK’s energy challenge

The Nuclear Industry Association’s (NIA) Chief Executive, Tom Greatrex explained at the World Nuclear Exhibition in Paris on 29 June that the result of the referendum has not changed the UK’s energy challenge. Speaking at the conference, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the NIA, said:

“It will surprise nobody at all that since last Friday morning there has been heightened interest in the effects the result of the referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union will have across the UK.

“That is as true of energy, as it is of transport, manufacturing or employment – the implications are not yet fully understood, and will not be until there is some clarity both of the timescale for, and approach of, negotiations between the UK and the EU. With a Prime Minister in the process of leaving the stage, and apparently precious little contingency planning having been done, it seems this process will not start in earnest until the autumn.

“However, the referendum result to leave the EU, just as had there been a result to remain, does not alter the fundamentals of the energy challenge the UK faces.

“Inside or outside the EU, our generation capacity has diminished – with more than 24GW of power having been retired in the last six years – and needs to be replaced. Inside or outside the EU, our requirement for secure and reliable power to complement wind and solar remains urgent. Inside or outside the EU, our commitments domestically and internationally mean we have to do that in as reliable and low carbon way as possible. Inside or outside the EU, and possibly more urgently outside of it, our energy security rests on reducing our exposure to the long term volatility of fossil fuel prices and the negative impacts that has for consumers, be they households or businesses.

“While there is an understandable clamour for answers from Government, we cannot afford to have a long hiatus in investment in energy infrastructure. The clock is running, and has been for some time now. That is why the statements from both the French Government and EDF in relation to their strategy, and the development of Hinkley Point C, have not been altered as a result of the referendum decision, are as significant as those from the other developers too.

“This is a global industry, well used to working in partnership across many states, and that would have continued to be the case with a different referendum result. What we now need is cool heads, clarity of purpose and a determination from industry and the Government to ensure the vital investment in energy infrastructure is delivered. That was the case last Wednesday, as it is today and as it will be next Wednesday too.”