PM backs ongoing use of nuclear

Nuclear energy still 'important part of the mix' despite tumbling renewables costs

Prime minister Theresa May has backed the UK’s continuing use of nuclear energy, despite calls for the government to review its new build programme.

The latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) renewable energy subsidy auction, which showed falls of up to 50% in the price of offshore wind generation, had prompted calls for the government to look again at the development of new nuclear stations.

But the prime minister backed the ongoing use of nuclear power.

“We do need affordable, clean energy to keep the lights on in the decades ahead,” she said in response to a question at Prime Minister’s Questions this week. “Nuclear energy is an important part of our energy mix.”

The environmental think tank Green Alliance said that the CfD auction showed that the UK now only required two new nuclear power stations on the scale of the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset in order to meet its carbon reduction targets for 2030.

The balance of the UK’s low carbon generation could be delivered by increasingly cost competitive renewable power sources like wind and solar, it said.

But May seems to have now stymied talk of a rethink. Her comments followed those from energy minister Richard Harrington who told the House of Commons during business department questions earlier in the week that the government is “in favour of a mix of energy”.

“Energy has to remain a mix. Nuclear is part of that mix, and as with all mixes aimed at maintaining continuity of supply, some are more expensive and some are cheaper.”

May was responding to a question from Conservative Lancashire MP David Morris who is campaigning for the development of a new nuclear power station at Heysham, which is located in his Lancashire coastal constituency of Morecambe.