Building a new generation of nuclear power stations would be a much cheaper way of meeting the UK's ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions than persisting with an expansion of renewable energy, according to research published today. The analysis, by the economics consultancy Oxera, calculates that a new nuclear programme would cost the taxpayer just over £4bn whereas continuing to rely on green energy such as wind power would require £12bn of public support.The UK has very challenging targets to meet.
The Government has set a target of reducing the UK's carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 and producing 20 per cent of the country's electricity from renewable sources by 2020. However, Oxera calculates that by 2025, the UK will be running 40 to 60 per cent short of its carbon-reduction targets, based on past economic performance, unless there is a much bigger shift away from fossil fuel electricity generation than currently envisaged. Robin Smale, Oxera's managing consultant, said: "At the moment, the two options available are increasing the amount of nuclear-generated energy or increasing renewables at the taxpayer's expense - neither of which will be popular. From the point of view of the taxpayer, nuclear energy may be a strong contender given its costs relative to wind power."And the government is preparing to take the nuclear route.
The research comes as Tony Blair prepares to seek backing for the construction of up to 10 nuclear power stations should he win the election next week. A consultation document setting out the case for a new nuclear programme is expected within weeks of a Labour victory.There are more details in the story.