UK Conservatives champions shale gas and electric cars

UK Conservative leader and Prime Minister Theresa May set out her party’s General Election manifesto on Thursday and it expressed a strong backing for shale gas and electric vehicles.

Meanwhile representatives from the nuclear power industry have told Power Engineering International they believe the manifesto is positive towards their sector despite not being mentioned in the document.

The party aims to have the lowest energy prices in Europe and has plans in place to make shale gas more palatable to affected communities.

Planning processes for shale developments would be streamlined and a higher share of tax revenues, paid into a national “shale wealth fund”, would be given to local communities in a bid to overcome grassroots opposition to fracking.
Theresa May
The Conservative manifesto claimed that Britain had the potential to have a similar ‘shale revolution’ as being experienced in the US, a technological development fiercely opposed by the Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition parties.

The party also promises an independent review into the cost of energy to ensure UK energy costs are as low as possible, while ensuring a reliable supply and meeting 2050 carbon reduction objective.

Despite the focus on affordability, the manifesto called for Britain to remain “at the forefront of action against global climate change” and reiterated a commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. A goal for “almost every car and van to be zero emission by 2050” was renewed, together with a pledge to invest à‚£600m by 2020 to help develop electric vehicles.

The manifesto expressed support for the UK’s role as a “global leader in offshore wind”, while continuing to demonstrate opposition to onshore wind.

In line with the principle of affordability, the manifesto omitted mention of nuclear power and said only that the UK’s post-Brexit energy policy would be based “not on the way energy is generated but on the ends we desire ࢀ” reliable and affordable energy”.

Nuclear power has come in for criticism due to its association with high costs.

This represents a shift away from technology specific targets such as the EU goal for 15 per cent of overall energy to come from renewables by 2020.

Among the other elements to the Tory party’s proposals were to establish an industrial energy efficiency scheme to help large companies install measures to cut their energy use and their bills. It was also proposed that smart meters be offered to every household and business by the end of 2020.

Bodies such as Greenpeace as well as particular media outlets have pointed to the omission of nuclear power in the Conservative’s document as indicative of a negative attitude by the party to the sector, however nuclear interests appear unperturbed.

In a statement to Power Engineering International on the subject Dr Jonathan Cobb, Senior Communication Manager with the World Nuclear Association said, “The Conservative manifesto is notable for not making specific policy statements about any form of electricity generation, other than a negative statement on onshore wind in England.”

“Nuclear stands well to contribute to the diverse energy mix outlined as an objective, and can contribute strongly to meeting all aspects of the policy.”

“More significantly the track record of the current Conservative government has demonstrated strong support for nuclear energy. The support for nuclear energy expressed in both the Labour and Liberal Democrats manifestos indicates there will be good cross-party support for nuclear energy in the UK in the next government.”

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, added to that positive interpretation of the manifesto, telling Power Engineering International, “The NIA welcomes the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to meeting our international climate commitments and the need for a secure and reliable power supply for the UK’s homes, businesses and public services. Whoever forms the government after 8 June will need to ensure those objectives are met, and as the current Government’s industrial strategy identified the civil nuclear industry as an early candidate for a sector deal, it is clear that the wider industrial and economic contribution nuclear makes is also appreciated.”

“With two thirds of the country’s despatchable generation capacity retiring between 2010 and 2030, and all but one of our nuclear fleet, the replacement of that capacity will continue to be a priority for the new Government. Nuclear provides secure, reliable, low carbon power and is not reliant on the weather or exposed to the volatility of fossil fuel prices. It forms an integral part of a logical, rational and sensible balanced energy mix, and will continue to do so in the UK.”

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