Lack of nuclear pushes up energy industry emissions

'Problems' at nuclear power stations forced energy firms to turn to coal and gas increasing emissions, according to Government figures released today (March 31).

The provisional figures, published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), revealed more emissions from the energy industry (+3.3%), residential (+13.4%) and business (+2.4%) sectors for last year.

Overall, the energy supply sector was the second biggest contributor to the increase in CO2, after residential, between 2009 and 2010.

Energy emissions have been estimated by DECC at 191.3 Mt in 2010, an increase of slightly more than 3% compared to 2009.

The increase, according to DECC, was almost entirely due to power stations, with demand for electricity only ‘slightly higher’ in 2010 than in 2009.

However, what DECC record as ‘technical problems’ at some nuclear power stations meant less nuclear energy was available and, as a result, more coal and gas was used instead.

This meant in overall terms there was a 4% jump in emissions from electricity generation between 2009 and 2010.

However, emissions from transport, most likely due to ever-soaring petrol prices, fell by a minuscule amount of just -0.1%.

Energy minister, Chris Huhne, promised to help industry to move away from fossil fuels, although any mention of nuclear power was crucially missing from a statement issued by his office.

He said: “As we come out of recession the coalition’s determined to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

“That’s why we are pushing on all fronts to turn around Britain’s woeful record on renewables.”

Luke Walsh

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