Independent coalition energy review backs more nuclear power

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has backed nuclear power as the best short term energy solution in a report called for in the formation of the coalition Government.

However the report’s claims about nuclear have been attacked as ‘optimistic’ by renewable industry backers.

The Renewable Energy Review also calls for long term investment in renewable power recommending a share of around 30% by 2030 as ‘appropriate’.

It concludes nuclear power generation ‘appears likely’ to be the most cost-effective form of low-carbon power generation in the 2020s’.

This the report says is ‘justifying’ significant investment despite safety concerns following recent events in Japan.

However, the report also calls more investment in low-carbon technologies most notably Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – to tackle emissions from new nuclear – which it says has the potential to play ‘major role’ in decarbonisation up to 2030.

The conclusions, by the independent panel which advises Government, are set out in the Committee’s Renewable Energy Review which was requested under the Coalition Agreement.

Given significant uncertainties over future developments, the review recommends that the Government should adopt a portfolio approach to technology development. This should cover both renewable generation and other low-carbon technologies.

The review sets out an illustrative scenario where 40% of our electricity comes from renewables, 40% from nuclear, 15% from coal and gas with CCS and less than 10% from unabated gas.

Committee on Climate Change chair, Lord Adair Turner, said: “Our analysis shows renewable energy technologies are very promising, and have an important role to play in helping to meet the UK’s carbon budgets and 2050 target, alongside other low-carbon technologies such as nuclear and CCS.

“The focus now should be creating a stable investment climate for renewables, making longer-term commitments to support less mature technologies, and putting in place incentives to deliver significantly increased investment in renewable power and heat generation required over the next decade”.

However, RenewableUK’s chief executive, Maria McCaffery, called the nuclear assumptions ‘optimistic’.

She said: “While the industry has been reassured by the CCC’s confidence that 2020 targets are achievable, it has called for a realistic assessment of costs and constraints, and a level playing field for all forms of technologies.

“It has also reminded that a host of studies has predicted a fall in the cost of delivery for offshore wind, while some of the current costs of delivering nuclear remain optimistic.

“The current 2020 target for offshore wind is already below what the industry can deliver.”

Luke Walsh

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