Report due to be published on Thursday warns of ‘folly of technological tribalism’
— Abandoning the UK’s ambitions for a number of new nuclear power stations would cause carbon emissions to spike and push up energy costs, according to lobbyists led by a former Conservative MP.
The New Nuclear Watch Institute warned against what it called the “folly of technological tribalism” of pursuing a future powered by renewables and gas-fired power stations, rather than any new nuclear plants.
Excluding nuclear would cause the UK to emit millions of extra tonnes of carbon dioxide and put the country’s carbon targets out of reach, the group concluded in a report due to be published on Thursday.
Tim Yeo, the institute’s chairman, said: “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. It also raises the cost of electricity.”
The claims will be seen as a direct riposte to recent suggestions from the government’s infrastructure advisers, who urged ministers to cool their ambitions for as many as six new nuclear projects and prioritise renewables instead.
The National Infrastructure Commission suggested the UK back only one more nuclear plant after the two reactors being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
However, the New Nuclear Watch Institute, which is supported by nuclear industry firms including the South Korean company eyeing a nuclear project in Cumbria, said “technological zealots” were trying to restrict the range of options for cleaning up electricity generation.
The group compared a worst-case scenario – where old nuclear plants are rapidly phased out, Hinkley Point C is cancelled, no nuclear plants are built and offshore windfarms and gas plants fill the gap – with one where nuclear plants account for nearly half of electricity generation by 2030.
The “no nuclear” world would lead to the cost of managing the UK’s energy system being 15% higher and result in an extra 35m tonnes of CO2, around a tenth of today’s annual emissions.
However, the comparison is based on an extreme scenario – few expect Hinkley Point C will be axed, given the billions EDF Energy has already poured into it.
The government has repeatedly made clear it is committed to new nuclear plants but has been grappling with how to help the financing of their huge upfront costs.
by Adam Vaughan | The Guardian