Why ditching nuclear is bad for climate change, good for Putin

19th January 2019 | Commercial Energy

If the UK gets rid of nuclear power, it will become more reliant on fossil fuels from Russia, writes Brian Wilson. Amidst the fine talk about “taking back control”, it was ironic that the most significant announcement for the British economy emerged this week from a Tokyo boardroom. The decision by Hitachi pull out of the planned Wylfa nuclear power station is not only devastating for the north Wales economy, it also leaves the UK without an energy policy worthy of the name.

To some, this will be a cause for rejoicing. They hate nuclear power so much they do not care where the alternatives come from – Russia in the long run – or what they consist of – fossil fuels, mainly. Check out Germany where the anti-nuclear policy driven by the Greens resulted last year in 44 per cent of electricity being compared to seven per cent in the UK. The more nuclear they close, the more coal is burnt.

Ditching nuclear

To all intents, the key decisions on future UK energy policy will now be taken by state-owned companies in Paris and Beijing. If they decide against further nuclear investment, we are back to a wing, prayer and imported gas. Even they, it will be a tight squeeze for decades to come – and very expensive when gas prices rise.

But what, I hear you say, about renewables? Well, I would claim to have done as much as any past Energy Minister to promote renewables of all types but it was always in the knowledge that they much be backed up by reliable baseload. Logically, if one’s primary concern is carbon reduction (hence renewables), the corollary should be to generate baseload with minimum harmful emissions. But when it came to nuclear, logic was abandoned in the 1980’s and the time-frame has now passed.

Anti-nuclear prejudice and privatisation have deprived government of the ability to take decisions that are in the long-term interest of the country yet we are still living off the benefits of political courage in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

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