The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) and Stop Hinkley have today submitted detailed views on the UK Government’s Clean Growth Strategy to decarbonise the economy and support low carbon energy development.
The Clean Growth Strategy sets out how the Government intends to meet its legally binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the period from 2023 to 2032. A 57% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 1990 levels, has been set as the target for the period 2028-32 in line with advice from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). However the CCC has said the UK is already off-track to meet that target. The Clean Growth Strategy is intended to get back on track, but the quantified parts of the strategy only add up to a 53% emissions reduction – well short of meeting the 57% target.
In the view of the NFLA and Stop Hinkley, the UK Clean Growth Strategy includes some welcome initiatives, particularly on energy efficiency. But it also includes a commitment to continue with the hugely expensive and discredited Hinkley Point C facility and to continue discussions with developers on the rest of the proposed 18GW nuclear programme. The Strategy also reaffirms plans to fund R&D on new nuclear technology, including Small Modular Reactors to the tune of around £460m – a figure which dwarfs funding for low carbon heat and energy efficiency. Both strategies are mistaken and should not be a central plank of a clean growth strategy. (1)
Instead, it is now generally agreed that renewable electricity is much cheaper than nuclear electricity and likely to become more so. Issues of concern around managing intermittency in renewables can be achieved without resorting to expensive nuclear power. In fact baseload power is not helpful in balancing a variable electricity supply – it simply leads to further overproduction of electricity at times when renewables can meet demand on their own.
What is required is flexible electricity supply which can be turned on and off quickly to fill the troughs when renewables aren’t able to supply.
In its submission, NFLA and Stop Hinkley argue solar power, offshore wind and onshore wind costs are all falling. By making the most of renewable technologies, along with a combination of energy efficiency, battery storage, hydrogen, combined heat and power and district heating networks, the UK Government should rather be developing an integrated energy strategy which not only cuts carbon emissions but also cuts costs for consumers, tackles fuel poverty and does not produce nuclear waste in the process.
In the view of NFLA and Stop Hinkley, the Hinkley Point C facility can still be cancelled more cheaply than continuing with this folly. R&D funding should be directed away from the idea of reviving the old, outdated ideas of small modular reactors and reprocessing and redirected at technologies for the future such as ‘Power to Gas’ and developing district heating networks with heat storage.
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
“This submission from NFLA and Stop Hinkley provides copious information to government that support for new nuclear facilities – large or small – is a mistaken and detrimental form of a clean low carbon growth strategy. Rather, an integrated approach of a wide renewable mix, energy efficiency and decentralised, local energy is both cheaper, more effective, low carbon and more easily achievable to deliver the large levels of carbon reduction required over the next decades. It is high time the UK Government listened to an alternative view that is neither ‘naïve or sentimental’ as the Energy Minister has called us, but comes to sensible, practical policy solutions. This submission provides that and I commend it to the government to read and implement instead.”
For further information contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 07771 930196 or Pete Roche, NFLA Policy Advisor / Stop Hinkley media contact on 07821 378210.
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