UK Parliament report: blow to nuclear revival hopes

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Nuclear power cannot contribute to the need for more energy capacity and less carbon emissions, according to a report published by the UK’s Parliamentary Committee on Environmental Audit.

Renewables and energy efficiency and not nuclear power are key to “keeping the lights on”, says a new report produced by an influential committee of the UK’s House of Commons and presented on 16 April. The Environment Audit Committee’s report “”Keeping the lights on: nuclear, renewables and climate change” criticises the Blair government for being too focused on nuclear and not showing enough leadership on renewables and energy efficiency.

“Nuclear power cannot contribute either to the need for more generating capacity or to carbon reductions as it simply could not be built in time”, states the report. It recommends building more gas-fired power stations and significant growth in renewables. The report also points to other issues of nuclear such as long-term waste disposal, public acceptability, the long-tem availability of uranium and the carbon emissions associated with the nuclear fuel cycle.

But prime minister Blair seems committed to his ideas on nuclear revival. In a speech on Monday 17 April, Mr Blair indicated that he would press ahead with a new generation of nuclear plants despite the committee’s report.

With oil prices reaching new record heights, it is clear that the debate on nuclear revival has only just started. The EU’s recent Green Paper on European Energy Policy has left the decision on new nuclear power plants up to the member states. 

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