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Ministers Asked to Confirm Their Stance on Nuclear Power

03 Aug 16:00 by Steve Walia

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As the cost of renewable energy plummets and the UK reaches new records for clean energy generation, ministers are being challenged on their stance towards nuclear power.

 

Nuclear energy has long sat in the 'black sheep' category of clean power and fallen from public interest as wind, solar and other energies have soared. Large-scale disasters - such as the most recent fallout in Fukushima - have meant that nuclear energy is still treated as a source of concern.

 

But the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) is being supported by Unite to call on the government to make huge investments in nuclear power. The source of the drive? The Coronavirus pandemic. With the government desperate to kick-start the economy after the pandemic lockdown, the nuclear industry is very keen to play a role, and it can also support EU goals to decarbonise by 2050.

 

EU leaders have accepted that nuclear energy can be a way of generating clean, non-greenhouse-gas-emitting energy, but public perceptions around the energy source are still largely negative. Yes, nuclear energy has a huge generation capacity and is incredibly reliable, producing power even when winds aren't blowing and the sun isn't shining. But the fears around things going wrong - and the problems of storing toxic nuclear waste - are always present.

 

Figures suggest that nuclear energy can produce four times more power than renewable equivalents. However, when financial considerations are taken into account, the plummeting costs of renewable technology manufacture mean that wind and solar power remain attractive overall.

 

For now, the government is being lobbied by the nuclear industry to say exactly what its plans are for nuclear energy in the UK, and the markets will watch and wait to see what happens.