Bridget Woodman: Jeremy Corbyn was once a high-profile opponent of nuclear power – what happened? Transforming energy systems is technically, socially, economically and politically complex and Labour’s announcement was backed up a briefing on aspects of how it might be achieved. It foresees rapid growth of both offshore and onshore wind, as well as solar power. It will also require a much-needed concerted effort to improve domestic energy efficiency, particularly in the use of heat in our homes. But the briefing only gives a partial picture and the scope and feasibility of the plan is yet to be established, as full details will only be revealed later in the year. The lack of detail raises lots of questions, but one of the most politically interesting is what role new nuclear energy might play in Labour’s vision of a net zero future. Long-Bailey’s speech did not mention it. The background briefing does, but only in passing. And the final, complete report is not yet out. So how much of Labour’s renewables pledge and net zero target depends on new nuclear stations being built? At the heart of this lack of clarity is the split in the Labour Party about nuclear power – and at the heart of that is Jeremy Corbyn. Back in the day – pre-leadership – Corbyn was a high-profile opponent of the nuclear issue on both environmental and proliferation grounds. None of the problems with nuclear waste and plutonium which so concerned him then have been solved, but his approach has shifted, leading to some awkward exchanges as people seek to understand what his views are now. Most notable among these was the painful Copeland by-election in 2017. Copeland is home to Sellafield, the heart of the UK’s nuclear waste industry, and the seat was solidly Labour for decades. The UK’s nuclear plans are floundering because of the high costs associated with new stations. Hinkley Point C requires much higher subsidies than was envisaged in 2008 – and financing of other new projects such as Wylfa and Moorside have led the government to think about measures such as partial nationalisation as a way of managing the construction and financial risks. This isn’t what the White Paper promised. So, when Labour’s energy plan is finally published, the issue will be one of the most fascinating. Will the party endorse new nuclear plants, despite their ever present financial problems? It seems likely that it will, because there has been no detailed examination of the case for new nuclear power for ten years – instead, both the Conservative and Labour have generally accepted that nuclear is necessary in a world of climate change. This is a real shame. One of the opportunities that putting forward a new vision of the UK’s energy systems offered was a new way of thinking about things. From this perspective, just accepting that nuclear power is an inevitable part of the energy future is lazy thinking which fails to recognise the changing energy world. If Labour really want a new, radical energy plan, it needs to reassess the nuclear paradigm.
The Conversation 28th Sept 2018 read more »
Labour’s manifesto commitment is to deliver in one decade an energy transition that will transform Britain’s prospects for generations – a commitment that 60% of all the non-transport electricity and heat demand across the UK will be supplied by means that are either renewable or low-carbon. Making good on that pledge is not just an opportunity to create high quality jobs, eliminate fuel poverty, and develop skills and industries that Britain can export around the world, it is also a moral imperative, to reduce the growing risk from climate change that threatens everyone’s future prosperity. The programme outlined by our research shows that investing to provide at least 60% of our energy from renewable and low carbon sources by 2030 is not a pipe dream. As energy industry professionals and experts, we believe that Britain has the best opportunities for renewable energy of almost any country in the world. If we move quickly, in the first parliament of a Labour government, it is still possible to catch up the ground lost under the Tories and become a leader in the global clean energy revolution.
Labour 28th Sept 2018 read more »
Electricity generating costs would rise by 15% and carbon emissions from the power sector would more than triple by 2030 if the UK were to abandon nuclear energy in favour of a mix of wind and gas, according to the New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI).
World Nuclear News 28th Sept 2018 read more »
Europe can reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest. Not only is it technically possible: a net-zero future is likely to be very desirable, with a prosperous economy, a more resilient society, and higher levels of wellbeing. This is the overall conclusion of “Net-Zero by 2050: From Whether to How”, a new report released today by the ECF and Climact. It showcases the results of the Carbon Transparency Initiative (CTI) 2050 Roadmap Tool project, developed over the past year in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. We need to widen the range of options being used, including by putting more focus on how we operate as a society. Innovation in our consumption patterns and increasing natural carbon sinks need to be combined with the more typical technical options such as energy efficiency, fuel shift, zerocarbon power production and electrification. Significantly renovating 3% of the buildings each year with deep retrofits to improve energy efficiency to near-zero energy levels, and fully decarbonising heat by 2050 at the latest. Current annual renovation rates are below 1%;
European Climate Foundation 27th Sept 2018 read more »