It seems that the UK government is in need of working out an alternative energy “plan B” provided that new nuclear power plants are not constructed by 2013, according to the Energy and Climate Change Committee. It was underlined in a statement that a failure to build them in 10 years would make it undeniably hard to meet goals, including reduction of carbon emissions.
Threats to nuclear plans
According to the statement released on the 4th of March, in case of a failure to construct the 16 gigawatts of new capacity by 2025 to replace old nuclear reactors, all but one, that are to be shut down by 2023, the goals, including reduction of carbon emissions, will be hard to achieve. The Energy and Climate Change Committee noted that there were viable threats to the schedule of the new nuclear project, taking into consideration reactors delays in Europe. The plan to build 16 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear capacity by 2025 is much in danger as after the tragic Fukushima crisis in Japan companies lost their interest in the programme. The withdrawals have been driven by costs overruns and delays as well.
Tim Yeo, chair of the parliament's committee on energy and climate change, underlined: "The Government seems to be crossing its fingers that private companies will deliver a fleet of new nuclear power stations on time and on budget."
Indeed, Europe has seen reactors delays in Europe and as such the UK should also be ready that it will have to face the same problems like France and Finland where new reactors plans significantly exceeded budgets and schedules. It was highlighted that in case of the failure to build nuclear plants, the UK might experience power stoppages and blackouts. As of yet, the UK produces approximately 19 percent of its energy from nuclear reactors and the country is preparing itself to closures of all nuclear plants but one by 2023.
Energy plan B
Because of possible energy blackouts and not meeting goals to reduce carbon emissions, the UK government should consider developing an energy “plan B” which would be an alternative to expanding nuclear energy. According to experts, who were questioned by the Energy and Climate Change Committee, the UK government should elaborate a plan with goals such as:
- Improved management of energy demand
- Expansion of renewable energy capacity
- Short and medium-term investment plans in gas sector
- Financial support of new nuclear technologies research
But it was also underlined in the statement, that the energy “plan B” should be based on transparent rules in comparison to the latest price discussions which were conducted by the government. And the effect of not having an energy “plan B” is visible as the UK government has a weak negotiating position with its partners, including EDF, which means simply higher prices, according to Tim Yeo, chair of the parliament's committee on energy and climate change.
The report of the Energy and Climate Change Committee and its conclusion to elaborate an alternative “plan B” was appreciated by Douglas Parr, Chief Scientist and Policy Director at Greenpeace UK. He believes that the “plan B” is inevitable and essential to achieve noteworthy energy efficiency.