Respected scientist says UK must build new nuclear reactors

A former chief scientist says that the UK should plan and build more nuclear power plants if it is to cut emissions and secure energy supplies in the coming decades.

PA reports that Professor Sir David King said there was “no question” more reactors were needed than the new fleet – which will simply replace the UK’s the existing nuclear power plants due to close by 2025 – and the Government must do more to support them.

He claimed reform of the electricity market to provide long-term contracts for low-carbon energy generation and a minimum price for credits to cover carbon pollution, benefiting “clean” nuclear, were not enough to encourage the sector.

“What we calculated was that we can only reduce emissions by 80 per cent by mid century by moving all the heating and transport sectors onto the grid, which will double demand by mid century,” he said.

And there was an economic imperative in making the transition, with oil imports creating a “gaping hole in our balance of payments compared with 1999,” when the country was producing far more fossil fuels domestically, he said.

Having to import all our transport fuels would leave us 95 billion US dollars worse off than in 1999, with oil prices at 100 dollars a barrel, he said. Brent crude is currently at around 125 US dollars per barrel.

But building around 27 nuclear power plants, which could be accommodated on the UK’s existing sites – which have already been earmarked for the new fleet of reactors – could deliver twice the amount of power currently planned.

This would allow transport and heating to switch away from expensive fossil fuel imports to electricity.

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