John Hutton this week called for the expansion of the UK's nuclear industry. The speech preceded an agreement due to be signed by Gordon Brown and the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy which promoting French reactor technology in the new power stations planned for the UK.
In France, 80 percent of the energy supply currently comes from nuclear power as opposed to only 20 percent in the UK. However this figure is already reducing as the UK begins decommissioning ageing plants. Hutton will state today that the creation of nuclear power stations will create over 100,000 jobs and contribute 20 billion pounds into the economy. He will encourage the UK to "lead the world in the development and application of this new generation of low carbon power technology"
The Renewable Energy Centre commented on Hutton's proactive stance by acknowledging the need for nuclear as part of the solution but not the means to the end for emissions targets or energy supply. Energy security has been one of Hutton's reasons for promoting nuclear power as a greener and self sufficient way of producing the UK's electricity supply. However The Renewable Energy Centre commented that Russia is currently, alongside oil, one of the main exporters of Uranium, used in nuclear power plants. The Centre warned that the supply of uranium could also become a future potential threat to the UK's energy supply if the country relies too heavily on nuclear.
A Friends of the Earth spokesperson also commented "There are far better and safer solutions to Britain's energy needs that should be developed. We would like to see collaboration between countries on clean and renewable energy sources not nuclear".
The Renewable Energy Centre stated that nuclear would be essential as part of the energy mix but that more focus could be given to the UK's untapped supply of wind and wave power. The UK has the potential to harness vast amounts of power from these sources. It is the key the issue of who should fund the upgrading of the grid infrastructure which is preventing further investment in these technologies.
Richard Simmons Managing Director at The Renewable Energy Centre said "There is definitely a place for nuclear in the UK energy mix but issues with waste disposal and uranium supply do need to be addressed. Nuclear is also still an evolving technology, globally there is only one power station built per year and so there is a skill shortage in this arena. Whether the UK has the expertise for the 100,000 jobs Hutton is referring to remains to be seen.
He continued "I want to see the government put politics aside and commit to an energy policy which will unequivocally solve both our energy security and carbon emissions targets. To do this I believe the government will need to make unpopular decisions in the short term to reap the benefits and rewards for the UK in the long term. The government needs to put in place legislation for the individual and significant investment in a secure, renewable and clean energy mix for the nation."
The Renewable Energy Centre reiterated its commitment to promoting all types of renewable energy to encourage both individuals and businesses to consider the impact of implementing greener solutions. It stated that UK wide the governments policies needed to include an ongoing mix of solutions which could be implemented over the next decade which would satisfy the emissions targets both in the short and long term.
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