According to the Government’s Annual Statement of Emissions for 2011, the UK’s net carbon account was around 573.9 million tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2e), down from an estimated 774.3 MtCO2e in 2008.

The net UK carbon account is what the Government compares against the carbon budgets to determine whether they are being met.

The report also showed that the net UK carbon account decreased by 4% between 2010 and 2011, which was primarily a result of a decrease in residential gas use.

Residential emissions are heavily influenced by external temperatures, and 2011 was a warmer than average year.

However, a reduction in demand for electricity and greater use of nuclear power for electricity generation also contributed to the overall decrease in emissions.

The technical problems observed at some nuclear power stations in 2010 were resolved in 2011 leading to greater nuclear capacity.

Coinciding with the report, Vince Cable announced new funding awards to enhance the supply chain and increase opportunities in the nuclear industry, as the Government confirmed its nuclear strategy.

The funding will support 35 projects across the UK in developing new technologies for the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

It will also bring together over 60 organisations including Laing O’Rourke, Sheffield Forgemasters and EDF who will work alongside innovative small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and universities.

The £18m joint funding between the Technology Strategy Board, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is expected to leverage in an additional £13m making the total value of the projects £31m.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “There are huge global opportunities that the UK is well placed to take advantage of in the nuclear industry. Our strong research base will help develop exciting new technologies that can be commercialised here and then exported across the globe.

“There are many innovative SMEs across the nuclear sector and this joint funding reinforces the government’s commitment to a nuclear strategy that will create jobs and growth,” he added.

However, environmental groups were sceptical of the Governments plans and many argue that nuclear power is an outdated, expensive energy source.

Last week, planning was approved by the Government for construction of the first nuclear power station in the UK since 1995.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie