Feeds

Energy Review looks to generate security

Darling of the nuclear industry

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The sound of champagne corks popping in the offices of nuclear power bosses rang around the world yesterday when, as expected, the UK government committed to a new generation of fission reactors.

Everyone is digesting the DTI Energy Review, and despite weighing in at a coma-inducing 213 pages, the verdict would seem to be that it is short on detail. The review lists many proposals, most of which are for further consultation. On nuclear, a consultation on a policy framework is the modest goal.

Buried in the accompanying press statement, after waxing lyrical about renewables, energy efficiency and climate change, is the real meat about the renewal of the nuclear power capability.

Trade and Industry secretary Alistair Darling said: "Our analysis suggests that, alongside other low carbon generating options, a new generation of nuclear power stations could make a contribution to reducing carbon emissions and reducing our reliance on imported energy."

The need to tackle the ageing nuclear grid, which has supplied around 20 per cent of the national energy requirement for decades, was brought into sharp relief recently when The Guardian uncovered details of cracks in reactors. As the plants are decommissioned, the contribution of nuclear is set to tumble to around five per cent by 2020.

The move to a pro-nuclear stance represents a fairly swift about-face from the government though, which in its 2003 energy review said the vast investment required by nuclear power stations made their economics unviable. The 2006 review says they could be financially sound based on "a range of plausible scenarios", but firmly puts responsibility for detailing those scenarios in the hands of the private sector.

Responding to parliamentary questions yesterday, Darling denied critics' claims there would be any subsidies for the new reactors. He told reporters: "We are looking at anyone coming forward to pay the full costs of planning, building, operating, decommissioning - the lot."

The review does hint the government will seek to lend a helping hand on getting planning consent for new plants, Darling commenting: "We have a responsibility to ensure that our planning system deals with investment proposals in an efficient and timely way."

The industry anticipates most people do not fancy having a 1000MW thermonuclear reactor in their backyard.

In fact, the government seems keen to move quickly on the whole nuclear issue, mooting a White Paper as soon as the turn of the year.

The DTI has at least satisfied business in the form of the CBI, whose director general Richard Lambert said: "Streamlining the planning process for new power infrastructure and establishing a long-term pricing mechanism for carbon will help give business confidence to invest in both."

Predictably, the other major Westminster parties and the green lobby have blasted the DTI's pro-nuclear stance. David Cameron said nuclear should be "a last resort" while the Lib Dems said it would cost taxpayers billions.

Representing scientists, the Royal Society has come out to criticise the review. Vice president Sir David Wallace said: "The energy review has failed to deliver the bold decisions that we have been waiting for. While the government has recognised the twin challenges of climate change and energy security, this review is weak on its commitment to renewable."

For all the climate change dressing-up which has surrounded the run up to the Energy Review's launch, we might suspect the real motivation behind its finding in favour of nuclear power was the second of those "twin challenges" - energy security. The depletion of North Sea oil and gas means Britain does not have fossil fuel self-sufficiency any more.

Energy security is sure to be top of the agenda at this weekend's G8 meeting in St Petersberg. With Russia's continuing energy spats with former Soviet nations, and the Bush administration's plans to bring an end to American reliance on oil imports, has Labour been guilty of catching an energy isolationist wave? ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.