The need for much faster reduction in fossil fuel use is now almost universally accepted. This poses a challenge for electricity, almost two thirds of which is generated using carbon intensive fossil fuels. Despite the rapid growth of renewable energy nuclear power remains the largest source of low carbon electricity in the developed world, accounting for about one fifth of power generation.
The Green New Deal launched recently by the Democrats is a welcome sign that some American politicians support urgent action to address climate change. The deal's aim of cutting carbon emissions by 60% by 2030 is very challenging. It envisages abandoning nuclear energy as well as ending the use of fossil fuels. This reflects the left wing inclinations of many of its backers and their preference for renewables. It's also a reminder of the existential threat now facing the nuclear industry.
China General Nuclear (CGN) has given fresh impetus to its nuclear ambitions in the United Kingdom after opening talks with British company Rolls Royce just days after Japanese company Hitachi pulled out of plans to build a new power station in North Wales.
Hitachi shelves plans for nuclear plants at Wylfa and Oldbury
17 January 2019
Hitachi has halted work on its plans for new nuclear plants at Wylfa and Oldbury, sparking fears about the UK’s future energy security and its ability to achieve greenhouse gas reduction targets. The announcement is the second blow to the UK’s nuclear new build programme in three months after Toshiba axed its plans for a power station at Moorside in Cumbria in November.
UK manufacturers can afford to wait on an EU deal, but not to crash out
13 January 2019
To have one nuclear power project collapse looked like bad luck for the UK government. But to allow two to fail in as many months would be careless and could prove fatal to ambitions for a nuclear revival. Toshiba pulled the plug on a Cumbrian plant in November and now Hitachi is poised to cancel its plans for a power station in Wales.
The former MP Tim Yeo, a supporter of nuclear, has warned that if Hitachi walked away it could spell the end for the nuclear reboot. Well, that is now coming to pass. Despite the government tilting the playing field, projects are just not progressing as ministers had hoped.
Hitachi is on the verge of abandoning its plan to build a nuclear power station at Wylfa in Wales in a move that would leave the UK’s energy strategy in jeopardy.
Tim Yeo, a former Tory minister, said the UK government now had a choice of “China or nothing” if it wanted to proceed with its nuclear plans.
Mr Yeo, who now chairs the New Nuclear Watch Institute, a think-tank, said: “If Wylfa is not going ahead, if Moorside is not going ahead, we have got issues with Hinkley Point…..we are really left with the Chinese who are minority partners in Hinkley Point and . . . to build at Bradwell.”
The final quarter of 2018 saw harsh reality begin to confront the lofty goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord and the more modest commitments of the countries which signed it. Three years on, prospects for reaching these goals and honouring these commitments are already starting to fade.
Conference: Nuclear growth relies on good policies
16 November 2018
Political support for nuclear power is crucial if this proven, sustainable and zero-carbon source of electricity is to play its part among other clean energy technologies in the fight against climate change. This was the message of ministers and industry leaders at UNECE’s 9th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development. Nuclear power was for the first time included on the programme of the annual event, which was held on 12-15 November in Kiev.
Interview with Tim Yeo: Convincing Europe to embrace nuclear power
26 October 2018
Tim Yeo faces an uphill struggle in trying to persuade Europeans to think nuclear. The problem is that among governments in Europe, the focus of Yeo's lobby group, the trend is away from the use of nuclear, not towards it. The UK is the exception. The world's first large-scale nuclear power station was completed there in 1956, and three new projects are in the pipeline. Over Europe as a whole, 131 reactors are operating, providing more than a quarter of its electricity. But now Belgium, Germany, Spain and Switzerland have announced plans to phase out nuclear power.
But when it comes to Europe, does Yeo wake up each morning feeling that he's fighting a winning or losing battle? He chuckled before offering the reply of a consummate politician: "Well, I think it's a winnable battle, but I'm not sure we're winning it yet. Not in Europe."
UK nuclear phaseout would be costly mistake, says think tank
28 September 2018
Electricity generating costs would rise by 15% and carbon emissions from the power sector would more than triple by 2030 if the UK were to abandon nuclear energy in favour of a mix of wind and gas, according to the New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI).
In the foreword to its new report, NNWI chairman Tim Yeo says: "Some campaigners claim that by mid-century Britain, and indeed other countries, will be able to meet all its energy needs from renewables. Pointing to delays and cost overruns experienced recently in the construction of some new nuclear plants they argue that, despite its impeccable credentials as a reliable supplier of low-carbon baseload electricity, nuclear power should be phased out along with coal."