For the United Kingdom to meet its carbon targets the use of nuclear power will be needed.
A new fleet of nuclear power plants will be needed by the UK if it wants to meet its carbon emission targets, says the Nuclear Industry Association during their annual conference.
The Nuclear Industry Association, who represent the UK companies within the industry, stated that the UK needs a reliable and proven source of electricity which is low carbon emitting and can work alongside the ‘weather dependant’ solar and wind power in generating electricity.
They went on to state that without the use of nuclear power the UK runs the high risk of relying on gas fired power stations for many years to come.
In the past month the two leading political parties in the UK, the Labour and Conservative parties, both committed to bringing in new nuclear power stations if either of them gets into power.
Currently Hinkley Point is the only new nuclear power station which is under construction in the UK. The project has already gone over budget by £3 billion and it is not expected to be generating electricity for the national grid to use until 2025. Moreover, the cost of electricity from this plant is predicted to be significantly greater than the alternative forms of energy production.
A report from 2016 discovered that the construction of more gas fired power stations and wind farms, along with improved measures put in place to manage electricity demand, could potentially save £1 billion each year and put the UK on track to meet climate targets.
In a recent survey of 2000 adults around 75% of them agreed with the Nuclear Industry Association in that the UK government needs to take more action in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, however not so many believe that nuclear power is the correct way about it.
A YouGov poll from august showed mixed public attitudes towards nuclear power. Of those polled, 33% of adults were favourable to the idea, 49% were against it and 18% did not know.
The chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex, believes that the nuclear industry needs to grow so that it can contribute to a low carbon economy. With nuclear power being such a proven, reliable technology, which also has lower lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions than solar energy and the equivalent of offshore wind farms it should not be ignored. Nuclear power also brings benefits to the wider economy as it creates high level direct and indirect employment of about 155000 people.
At this moment in time, nuclear power provides 20% of all the UKs electricity. However, over the next decade all current nuclear power plants apart from one will be closed and electricity demand will more than likely keep rising as heating and cars turn to being electric.
On the other hand, Dr Doug Parr, the chief scientist for Greenpeace UK disagrees with the Nuclear Industry Association. He believes that the government has done more than enough for the nuclear industry as they have been promised double the amount of money for the power they generate compared to other renewable power plants. He also states that nuclear plants have been left behind by other renewable energy options and is no longer a competitive option.
Improved storage and smart grids mean that the nuclear powers unique trait of being an extremely dependable source is no longer such an advantage. Nuclear energy is also seen as being a slow, expenisve, dangerous and all round unnecessary form of generating electricity.