Boris bets on nuclear with EIGHT new plants to get the go-ahead
Boris bets on nuclear with EIGHT new plants to get the go-ahead… but ministers admit strategy WON’T help with energy crisis for YEARS as Rishi and Tory revolt block drive for onshore wind and home efficiency
- New Energy Security Strategy will hugely expand wind, solar and nuclear power
- The target is 95% of Britain’s electricity from nuclear and renewable by 2030
- Government intends to reduce reliance on volatile international energy markets
- Boris Johnson is said to have won argument with Rishi Sunak over nuclear power
Boris Johnson unveiled a big bet on nuclear today as part plans to shore up the UK’s energy supplies – but ministers admitted that it will do nothing to help the crisis in the coming months.
After weeks of bitter haggling in Whitehall, the PM has finally published the strategy saying it will massively expand wind, solar and atomic power so that nearly all our electricity is homegrown and low carbon by the end of the decade.
But although Mr Johnson appears to have won arguments with Chancellor Rishi Sunak over funding nuclear, a Tory revolt has blocked targets for onshore wind and there is little detail on subsidies for domestic generation and efficiency measures.
In a round of interviews this morning, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng conceded that the strategy is a ‘three, four or five-year answer’ and will not address the immediate problems amid the standoff with Russia.
Meanwhile, the managing director of Hinkley Point C – the UK’s first new nuclear power plant in 30 years – said Covid and higher costs mean it will not be up and running by 2026 as scheduled.
Labour accused the government of being ‘held to ransom’ by restive Conservative MPs and failing to take action that would help hard-pressed families now.
And experts complained that the strategy does not include anything ‘radically new and different’.
Above: Plans and proposals for new nucelar power plants around the UK, with as many as eight by 2050. The ambitious Energy Security Strategy proposals include a target to generate 95 per cent of Britain’s electricity from nuclear and renewable sources by 2030 – up from 55 per cent at present.
Boris Johnson has won arguments with Chancellor Rishi Sunak over the cost of nuclear power, sources said. The Government will unveil its long-awaited Energy Security Strategy to reduce reliance on the international market following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Above: Construction workers at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station site, near Bridgwater. Ambitious proposals include a target to generate 95 per cent of Britain’s electricity from nuclear and renewable sources by 2030 – up from 55 per cent at present.
The plan sets out an ambition to build up to eight nuclear plants to meet around a quarter of projected electricity demand by 2050.
The ambitious proposals include a target to generate 95 per cent of Britain’s electricity from nuclear and renewable sources by 2030 – up from 55 per cent at present.
It is not clear how the Government will achieve this without energy bills rocketing.
Ministers will open the door to onshore wind in England by consulting on relaxing the planning laws that have led to a virtual moratorium on wind farms since 2015.
Local communities who wish to have wind farms installed will be guaranteed lower energy bills – potentially saving households hundreds of pounds a year.
Again, details of how it will work remain unclear and the idea of setting targets for onshore wind generation has been abandoned.
Approval times for building offshore wind farms will be slashed from four years to one year to rapidly expand their development, with an ambition to generate 50GW by 2030 – more than enough to power every home in the UK.
And solar capacity could grow five-fold by 2035, with more panels placed on domestic and commercial rooftops.
Ministers will also consult on changing planning rules to increase solar farms on non-protected land – a move that is likely to prove controversial in rural areas.
Ministers will open the door to onshore wind in England by consulting on relaxing the planning laws that have led to a virtual moratorium on wind farms since 2015 (stock image)
The Government hopes the strategy will make Britain a net energy exporter by the end of the decade, and insulate the country from global energy price shocks.
Mr Kwarteng insisted targets to reduce the climate crisis are not being deprioritised, telling Sky News today: ‘Not at all, I think that the net zero legislation is, after all, in law, it’s still in the law of the land, we’re focused on that, but of course given what’s happening around the world, given the pressure on energy prices, we’re also doing lots of other things to make sure we get energy independence back into the UK.’
Pressed on the impact it will have on energy bills now, he said: ‘You are right to say that the strategy is more of a medium term, three, four or five-year answer, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t address this.
‘It’s really important that we get an energy strategy, an energy policy, that means we can have more security and independence in the years ahead.’
Hinkley Point C managing director Stuart Crooks told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the project is ‘around 54 per cent’ complete.
He warned that while 2026 was the scheduled finish date, they had been hit by the same problems as other industries.
‘2026 is our forecast date but like every other industry we’re in the middle of this energy crisis,’ he said.
‘We’re off the back of Covid and we have been impacted by all of those factors.
‘So, we are reviewing our schedule on our cost base to make sure we bring this power to the public of UK as soon as possible.
‘Our overriding priority is always safety and quality, and we’ll make sure that the plant is built absolutely right.’
Mr Miliband said that a few Tory backbenchers were ‘holding the Government’s energy policy to ransom’.
‘Onshore wind is the cheapest, quickest form of energy we can get,’ he told the BBC.
‘It’s been blocked since 2015 because of Government rules, not because of the views of the population … but because a few Tory backbenchers are holding the Government’s energy policy to ransom … and people are paying higher bills as a result.’
Ministers have promised cleaner and more affordable energy to be made in the UK, aiming to make 95 per cent of electricity low carbon by 2030.
Mr Miliband added: ‘The Government wanted to have a target to double onshore wind … that is the equivalent of building five new nuclear power stations between now and 2030.
‘I’m in favour of new nuclear but stations that the Government is talking about today won’t be built for at least a decade. That’s why this strategy is so deeply flawed.’
Mr Johnson, the Chancellor and Mr Kwarteng held a series of crisis meetings yesterday to finalise the plan after weeks of wrangling, but Mr Sunak’s objections about the cost of nuclear were ultimately overruled.
A source said: ‘The PM and Business Secretary won on nuclear.’
The strategy also includes plans to launch a licensing round for new North Sea oil and gas projects this summer to reduce reliance on imports.
And it contains an ambition to double low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 to replace gas in the longer term.
The PM said last night that the plan will allow Britons to ‘enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills’ by reducing dependence on volatile international prices.
Mr Johnson said: ‘We’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain – from new nuclear to offshore wind – in the decade ahead.
‘This will reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills.’
Mr Kwarteng added: ‘We have seen record high gas prices around the world. We need to protect ourselves from price spikes in the future by accelerating our move towards cleaner, cheaper, home-grown energy.
‘The simple truth is that the more cheap, clean power we generate within our borders, the less exposed we will be to eye-watering fossil fuel prices set by global markets we can’t control.
‘Scaling up cheap renewables and new nuclear, while maximising North Sea production, is the best and only way to ensure our energy independence over the coming years.’
Source: Read Full Article