Lobbying business group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the UK Government to build new nuclear power stations in order to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
In a letter to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) secretary of state Greg Clark MP, the group stated that it “sees an important role for new nuclear power as part of a diverse, low-carbon energy mix.”
It also argued that the government should look at financing models like the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model to maximise cost-savings from follow up projects at Hinkley Point C, and that the government should throw more support behind innovative new nuclear technologies like small modular reactors (SMRs).
The CBI continued: “We believe such measures could encourage both foreign and domestic capital investment into new nuclear projects can help us meet the UK’s carbon reduction targets while benefitting from the industrial and economic benefits of a domestic nuclear construction industry.”
In the letter, the group also praised the government’s recent carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) action plan for decarbonisation, arguing that CCUS technology should be scaled up and promoted in the 2020s.
Finally, the CBI called for the rapid expansion of electric vehicles (EVs) to decarbonise transport, with customer incentives and a “world-class” recharging infrastructure network.
Sizewell C nuclear power station project development director Jim Crawford said: “There is a climate change crisis and the recent Climate Change Committee report shows how far and fast we need to go to meet that threat.”
“Net-zero means completely decarbonising energy and electrifying more of our lives. All the replacements need to be low carbon and much of that will be renewables. But going all the way with renewables and batteries isn’t practical, the costs of dealing with too much or little wind and sun rise steeply with very high levels of renewables.
“Renewables with reliable nuclear gives the UK a more secure and affordable supply and helps us deal better with periods with too much or too little wind.”
Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr criticised the CBI, stating: “The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission has made it very clear that the nuclear route to decarbonisation should be approached with immense caution. This is yet another example of what’s good for a few CBI members being bad for the UK economy, whilst generating a host of environmental hazards for future generations to sort out.
“The CBI know very well that none of their members are willing to risk money on a last throw of the dice for a dying industry, but they’re quite happy to lobby for the government to dump that risk onto taxpayers, and hand over mountains of money for reactors under contracts where the public protects their investment from their own incompetence.”
Carbon Capture and Storage Association chief executive Luke Warren said: “It is tremendously helpful that the CBI, as the voice of UK business, has highlighted the unique value that CCUS offers across the UK economy and the need for Government investment to support the scale up of this crucial technology.
“The successful development of a UK CCUS industry will create huge opportunities for UK based industry as well as the supply and services sectors.”