Jeremy Hunt has kickstarted a fresh push into nuclear power, which he hopes will provide a quarter of Britain’s electricity by 2050. In his budget speech, the chancellor announced a competition to co-fund small nuclear plants and hopes a new delivery body, Great British Nuclear, will ease the creation of nuclear projects. He also launched a consultation to classify nuclear as “environmentally sustainable”. But is it?
Hunt follows in the footsteps of the former prime minister Boris Johnson in making bold statements on the importance of nuclear. Britain’s nuclear power stations date back to the 1950s and are now ageing, with just one, Sizewell B, still scheduled to be running after 2028. Last week, France’s EDF – which operates the stations – said it had extended the life of two other plants.
Proponents argue that nuclear provides a “baseload” of power that can be relied on, whereas renewable energy such as wind and solar is dependent on weather conditions, meaning it cannot always help match supply with demand. There are also high hopes for nuclear fusion as an energy source, but this has not been commercialised.
To attract private investment. The consultation is on the “taxonomy” or financial classification system of energy. This is important as there have been a proliferation of funds dedicated to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments springing up in global financial markets in recent years. These funds promise their investors that their cash is going towards social good, such as tackling the climate crisis. Hunt was also under pressure to respond to the Inflation Reduction Act, Joe Biden’s $369bn climate subsidy package.
No. The European Commission decided last year to label nuclear as a “green”Read more on theguardian.com