Nuclear power is essential to Britain's energy securityby Keith Parker / January 21, 2015 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2015 issue of Prospect Magazine
Backed by the British government, three consortia of international energy companies have announced plans to build 11 new nuclear reactors of three different designs at five sites in England and Wales by around 2030.
Less than 10 years ago such a statement would have been unthinkable. Yet this has now become a reality, driven by concerns about energy security as Britain becomes increasingly dependent on imported energy, combined with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat the causes of climate change, an issue that has become all the more pertinent with oil at $50 per barrel.
Furthermore, successive governments have sought to remove the barriers to investment by private sector developers in new nuclear and other low carbon generating capacity. Importing energy could become all the more attractive, but using fossil fuels to power our national grid will not help meet the strict climate change targets which will be further negotiated in Paris later this year.
Changes to the regulatory, planning and financial systems set in place by Labour have been delivered by the coalition. This has transformed the prospects for the nuclear sector, saving it from being a sunset industry. The industry employs over 50,000 jobs and generates a fifth of Britain’s electricity. Britain was a pioneer in nuclear technology, and is having to confront the challenge of decommissioning defunct nuclear power stations earlier than other countries.