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Green cash for nuclear energy

Energy is the main focus of the emissions reduction strategy intended to create more jobs.

New nuclear power stations and a massive expansion of renewable energy will form the basis of government plans to cut UK carbon emissions by a third, ministers said last week.

The government’s “transition plan” to 2020 sets out how the UK will cut carbon emissions by a third compared to 1990 levels, with green energy performing a major role.

Engineers said that the plan focused on low cost solutions.

“Over half of the carbon reduction is coming from the power and heavy industry sectors and it is clear that the government is quite sensibly focusing on the cheapest methods of carbon reduction in the UK,” said Arup associate director John Piggott.

“As a taxpayer and industry practitioner I’m relieved to see that.”

New technologies

Energy secretary Ed Miliband said that 30% of electricity would be produced from renewable sources − primarily wind energy, and a further 10% would be from nuclear power.

“The industry is planning at least 12.4GW of new nuclear power stations,” he said.

New technologies such as carbon capture and storage would be developed and four test sites will be built to trial this. Up to £500,000 is also being made available to develop new technologies for the proposed Severn Barrage (see project news).

“We must do all we can to support British businesses and workers.”

Peter Mandelson, Business Secretary

Business secretary Peter Mandelson said: “We must ensure that we equip businesses and the workforce with the capabilities and skills to take advantage of the potential benefits. There is no high carbon future.”

He said low carbon industries already directly or indirectly employ nearly 900,000 people in the UK. “With the sector set to grow by over 4% per annum over the next six years we must do all we can to support British businesses and workers,” he said.

Stimulation and spending

The plans involve stimulating sectors, such as wave and tidal power, civil nuclear power, offshore wind, and ultra-low carbon vehicles, to achieve the ambitious target. The announcements also reveal how some of the £405M earmarked for green industries in the Budget will be spent. This includes £120M for wind energy.

Engineering & Technology Board chief executive Paul Jackson said the civil engineering sector would inevitably be required to adapt and rebuild national infrastructure, but that problems with skills remain.

“To achieve these targets we will need more skilled engineers with the relevant skills and further investment in green technology.”

Paul Jackson, Engineering & Technology Board

The nuclear power industry would need 11,500 to 16,500 new people by 2015, while the renewables sector will need another 400,000, he said. “In order to achieve these [targets] we will need more skilled engineers with the relevant skills and further investment in green technology.

“It is important to recognise the need for consistency and stability in this crucial policy area to secure the future of the UK energy supply and to meet the government’s targets,” he said.

The renewables sector welcomed the investment plans.

“The renewables industry has had a tough time in the UK for many years and it has missed out on technologies where it should have led the world. What we have heard from Miliband shows a level of understanding and political leadership that suggests that may be about to change,” said Renewable Energy Association director of policy Gayner Hartnell.

Targeting the cash

  • £120M for developing the UK offshore wind industry
  • £95M for the Wave Hub demonstration and testing facility off the Cornish coast
  • £22M for the renewable energy proving fund
  • £15M for a Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre
  • £10M for renewables testing facilities in Northumberland
  • £10M for more electric vehicle battery charging infrastructure
  • £8M for a marine renewables development centre in Orkney
  • £6M to explore geothermal potential in the south west

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