National Infrastructure

The UK government risks pushing up the cost of decarbonisation under its current plans to build a fleet of new nuclear power stations, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has warned today. The Commission, launched in 2015 by then-Chancellor George Osborne, has published its first National Infrastructure Assessment of the UK’s future infrastructure needs, arguing the UK should only green light one more nuclear power plant before 2025. The NIC also called on the government to set out a clear, budgeted pipeline for future green power auctions, in order for the UK to meet a target of delivering 50 per cent renewable power by 2030. Currently around 30 per cent of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources. Richard Black, directoe at the ECIU think tank, noted that under current plans to retire ageing reactors, contracting just one more nuclear power station before 2025 would mean that by 2032 just Sizewell B, Hinkley Point C and one more nuclear plant – likely Wylfa Newydd – would be operating in the UK, together providing around 16 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs. If a further 50 per cent of power demand is provided by renewables by that date, that still only gets zero emission power generation up to a 65 per cent share of the power mix – a 20 per cent shortfall against government’s own targets. “Although the renewables figure for 2030 looks ambitious, it’s not enough, combined with the Commission’s nuclear recommendations, to get us to the government’s 2032 target for clean power,” Black told BusinessGreen. “This indicates that the Commission either hasn’t appreciated the government clean power target, or has got its sums in this area somewhat awry.”

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The National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) rebuttal of the government’s nuclear power policy may have driven the headlines today, but its first ever National Infrastructure Assessment should catch the attention of green business executives from every sector of the economy. From electric vehicle roll outs to plastic packaging and drought resilience, the NIC proposes a genuinely historic overhaul of UK infrastructure to help the UK limit its environmental impacts and prepare for a changing climate. Delivering a model for low-cost heat in the UK is a “major outstanding challenge”, according to the NIC. The first step should be boosting the energy efficiency of the UK’s building stock, as an immediate way of slashing the country’s emissions from heat. But parallel to this, the government should investigate the potential of heat pumps and hydrogen as a low-carbon heating source for the future. Community-scale trials for hydrogen should be underway by 2021, the NIC argues, and if these go well, hydrogen should be supplying at least 10,000 homes by 2023. The Commission recommends nuclear projects should be pursued on a “one by one” basis, while established renewables such as wind and solar be “moved to the front of the queue” for government support, including affording them access to clean energy auctions. It also called on the government to set out a clear, budgeted pipeline for future green power auctions, in order for the UK to meet a target of delivering 50 per cent renewable power by 2030. Currently around 30 per cent of the UK’s electricity comes from renewable sources and green groups were quick to argue today’s report provides further evidence the government should do more to lower barriers to deployment for the lowest cost renewables.

Business Green 10th July 2018 read more »

UK electricity bills “can be frozen for 40 years” if renewables picked over nuclear. If the UK government acts now to develop renewable power, UK consumers will pay the same amount for their electricity in 2050 as they do now, according to an influential advisory body. The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has said the push for cheaper renewables should be complemented by a slowdown in the country’s nuclear programme, so that only Hinkley Point C and one other plant will be started before 2025. The advice is contained in the NIC’s first-ever National Infrastructure Assessment, which sets out the UK’s spending needs between now and 2050. The report says consumers in the UK pay an average of £1,850 a year for electricity, heat, hot water and petrol or diesel, and that this energy could be delivered at the same cost from a low carbon energy system by 2050.

Global Construction Review 10th July 2018 read more »

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Published: 11 July 2018