When the UK finalized a trade and security agreement with the European Commission on 24 December last year, it left with a set of arrangements governing future energy cooperation. Here, Dr David Lowry looks at the background and reveals one extraordinary condition that could terminate the nuclear component of the deal. An expert briefing by the House of Commons library in the UK Parliament set the context. “On energy, although [EU] Member States remain ultimately responsible for security of energy supply to citizens, and for deciding their energy mix, the UK and EU energy sectors remain integrated through trade, legislation and interconnection of energy supply. Consequently, the future relationship between the UK and EU has the potential to affect the UK’s civil nuclear industry, including nuclear power and research, and the trade of electricity and gas through interconnectors. Additional areas that may be affected include the island of Ireland’s energy market, energy efficiency regulations, and general energy infrastructure through wider changes to trade and the movement of people.” One of the complexities was the future arrangements for nuclear safeguards, which was addressed by a bilateral deal between the UK and European Commission, agreed in August 2018. Alongside the 1200-page Brexit trade and security agreement the UK and EU agreed a self-standing 18-page accord on nuclear co-operation, which is strong on outlining the importance of nuclear safeguards, peaceful uses of nuclear materials and regulatory oversight. The new nuclear agreement between the UK and EU, allows the militarization of the entire 140,000 kilogramme stockpile of plutonium in store at Sellafield. For context, a nuclear warhead may be made with 5 kilogrammes.
Energy Transition 22nd Feb 2021 read more »