The New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI), a Think-Tank founded by Tim Yeo in 2014 focused on the international development of nuclear energy, presented in London on Thursday 27th September the findings of a report it commissioned about the UK power sector in 2030. The report entitled “The False Economy of Abandoning Nuclear Power: Techno-Zealotry and the Transition Fuel Narrative” finds that favouring natural gas over nuclear power in the generation mix would negatively affect both electricity costs and the environment. As an example, the study concludes that if the UK abandons nuclear power in favour of the seemingly cheaper mix of natural gas and renewables, electricity generation costs would rise by 15% and power sector carbon intensity would rise from 51 gCO2/kWh to 186gCO2/kWh in 2030.
Commenting on the study findings, Tim Yeo, Chairman of NNWI, said: “We often hear that new nuclear build is expensive. It turns out that, in fact, if all hidden costs are factored in, abandoning nuclear comes at an even higher price. The report’s conclusions are stark. Abandoning nuclear power leads unavoidably to a very big increase in carbon emissions which will prevent Britain from meeting its legally binding climate change commitments.”
“The message is clear: If the UK is to successfully meet the challenges faced by its power sector, the world’s only source of low-carbon base-load power generation – nuclear – must feature strongly in its ambitions.” He added.
The report also finds that reliance on natural gas to ensure the stability of electricity supply will substantially increase the difficulty of realising mitigation targets. It stresses that despite the well-documented advantages of combusting natural gas for electricity over coal, gas remains a carbon-intensive energy source; concluding that the UK will not be able to achieve its emission reduction targets for 2030, and beyond, if the transition fuel narrative is implemented.
The transition fuel narrative (TFN) is the claim that natural gas is capable of reducing coal-based emissions, acting as a bridge from the present to a renewable-dependent future (when advances in renewable and storage technology have become reliable and, thus, our sole sources of energy). Yet, according to the report, TFN supporters fail to acknowledge that the rising cost of emitting carbon will more than offset current low fuel costs; the levelised cost of gas-fired electricity is forecast to rise by 60% between 2018 and 2030.
The full text of the report is available on the NNWI website.