Energy companies have delivered an enthusiastic response to the government’s call to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power stations.
The government’s white paper, a response to its nuclear consultation, was published alongside the Energy Bill which sets out a range of measures to address the twin challenges of tackling climate change and securing energy supplies.
Energy secretary John Hutton, said: ‘With a third of our generating capacity coming offline within the next twenty years and increasing reliance on imported energy it is clear we need investment in a range of new energy infrastructure. Measures in the Energy Bill will drive a greater deployment of renewables and enable investment in carbon capture and storage and offshore gas infrastructure. These will help build our energy security, reduce emissions and place the UK at the forefront in the development of low carbon energy technology.’
Commenting on the announcement, Bill Coley, chief executive, British Energy Group said: ‘A balanced policy is the only credible solution for the UK to tackle the energy challenges it faces. Nuclear power is essential to this mix, delivering vast amounts of base-load power with extremely low carbon emissions. It will in the future, as it does today, make a major contribution to helping the UK meet its CO2 reduction targets.
‘For many years, British Energy’s highly skilled nuclear professionals have demonstrated exemplary achievement in safe, environmentally responsible operation. We are ready for new build and have the sites, people, skills and experience that are essential for its success.’
British Energy has established a dedicated team that includes experts with experience in consenting, nuclear licensing, design, construction and operation of nuclear stations in the UK and worldwide. It already owns eight sites next to existing licensed nuclear facilities that it claims rank amongst the best potential candidates for the construction of new nuclear power stations.
E.ON, which said it has long called for the construction of replacement nuclear power stations in the UK to ensure both security of supply and lower carbon emissions, is already taking part in pre-licensing by supporting Areva and Westinghouse designs.
It also believes that there is no requirement for either government subsidies or for a guaranteed long-term cost of carbon to make new nuclear power stations economic.
Dr Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK, said: ‘This is good news for the UK and for the battle against climate change, and we’re very keen to be involved in this replacement programme.
‘New nuclear power stations can make a very real impact in the battle against global warming and ensure that we as a country are less reliant on imported gas, particularly as world oil and gas prices continue to increase relentlessly.
‘Our plans include spending more than £1bn a year in building a balanced mix of nuclear, cleaner coal, gas and renewable power stations to reduce our carbon emissions and to ensure secure and affordable energy supplies.’