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Nuclear plans politically ‘safe’

Construction of new nuclear power stations is set to progress unhampered following the General Election, but political divisions have arisen over using carbon floor pricing to drive construction.

Shadow energy minister Charles Hendry told NCE that the current government was keen to ensure political consensus before starting the drive to build new nuclear power stations.

“We worked very hard with former energy minister John Hutton to take politics out of nuclear,” he said.

But the Tories argue that the price of carbon is currently a disincentive to new nuclear. It currently sits at £11/t under the EU Emission Trading Scheme and the Tories plan to raise it.

“Starting off low”

“Our thinking is to start off low,” said Hendry. “This is something that has to be given a direction by the end of the decade when the new nuclear plants and carbon capture projects might be coming on stream,” he said.

However, research by the Treasury published with the Budget suggests this would not be an effective way to stimulate energy markets.

The Treasury work settled instead on three proposals to stimulate the energy market and encourage investment: incentives for low-carbon generation, limiting high carbon energy production and arranging longterm payments to low carbon energy producers.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Not a very good idea. A high carbon price would make France very happy. Their carbon footprint is low thanks to nuclear power ours is high due to our reliance on coal. At the moment we need a low carbon price, I agree with Mr Hendry 'Start off low' but how low can you get?

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