New nuclear power: implications for a sustainable energy system

New nuclear power: implications for a sustainable energy system

The government has four clear goals in energy policy: reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; maintaining energy security; promoting competitive markets and ensuring affordable heating (as set out in the 2003 Energy White Paper). This report examines the impact that new nuclear power could have on the UK’s energy system and its energy goals.
Nuclear power provides around 20 per cent of the UK’s electricity (or about 8 per cent of its total energy). Assuming that a programme of new reactors will only replace existing plants, new nuclear build has, at best, only a limited potential to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions.
Given the financial and institutional commitments implied by a new nuclear programme, it is therefore essential to examine what impact it would have on the rest of the UK’s liberalised electricity market which provides 80 per cent of the UK’s electricity. Furthermore what impact would it have on the other 92 per cent of the UK’s broader energy market and on a move towards a more decentralised, sustainable energy system?
Catherine Mitchell, Bridget Woodman
Publication Date:
6 March, 2006
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