Nuclear Politics

UK Needs To Replace All The Nuclear Plants It Plans To Close, Lords Committee Told

By David Dalton
18 April 2019

UK Needs To Replace All The Nuclear Plants It Plans To Close, Lords Committee Told
Construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in England. File photo courtesy EDF Energy.

18 Apr (NucNet): If the UK wants to meet its carbon budgets it will need to ensure that it gets at least one nuclear station online in the coming years and replace the nuclear plants it is going to close, the House of Lords science and technology committee has been told.

Robert Gross of Imperial College London told a committee hearing into low-carbon technologies that the UK needs to roughly double the amount of renewables capacity and to make sure that “we at least replace the nuclear stations that are going to close”.

He said: “If we do not replace the closing AGRs [advanced gas-cooled reactors] we will need to go even further with renewables or to do something with CCS, which we are currently doing absolutely nothing with.

“We have something of the order of 40 GW of renewables installed and something of the order of 100 TWh coming from that sector. We would need to double both of those statistics over the period to about 2030.”

As part of its effort to reduce carbon emissions the UK government has set five-yearly carbon budgets which currently run until 2032. They restrict the amount of greenhouse gas the UK can legally emit in a five-year period.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, told the committee that all but one of the current nuclear fleet will have reached the end of their operating lives by 2030, after lifetime extensions.

He said that to maintain the broad proportion of nuclear in the mix, which brings with it a range of different features that give you a mix that is as low-carbon as possible, there are a number of policy interventions that need to be determined. He said all the policies are being thought about and considered by the government, but there is “a real urgency on time, because of the time it takes to build the power stations”.

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