Nuclear and hydrogen key planks of UK’s ambitious energy strategy

The UK government has published a wide ranging energy white paper which envisages a transformation of the country’s energy system as it seeks to move away from a dependence on fossil fuels.

A core component of the strategy is nuclear energy, with Britain confirming it would enter negotiations with France’s EDF to try to strike a funding deal on the £20 billion pound Sizewell C nuclear energy project in Suffolk, Eastern England.

“We’re starting negotiations with EDF, which would be the developer at Sizewell C,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma told the BBC.

“What this is not is a green light on the construction, so what we will be doing is looking to see whether we can reach an investment decision in this parliament.”

EDF is already building Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than two decades, Hinkley Point C, with backing from China’s CGN.

As well as nuclear energy, hydrogen is also seen as an important component of the over-arching vision.

The UK government says it aims to kick-start the hydrogen economy by working with industry to aim for 5GW of production by 2030, backed up by a new £240m net zero Hydrogen Fund for low carbon hydrogen production.

Other key components of the energy white paper include

  • Moving from an economy that was historically based on fossil fuels to one that is fit for a net zero economy, changing how we heat our homes and travel, doubling our electricity use, and harnessing renewable energy supplies.
  • Generating emission-free electricity by 2050 with a trajectory that will see the UK have overwhelmingly decarbonised power in the 2030s. Low carbon electricity will be a key enabler of our transition to a net zero economy with demand expected to double due to transport and low carbon heat.
  • Establishing a UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) from 1 January 2021 to replace the current EU ETS at the end of the Transition Period. It increases ambition on reducing emissions, and provides continuation of emissions trading for UK businesses and certainty on how they operate.
  • Continuing to explore a range of financing options for new nuclear with developers including the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model.
  • Delivering ambitious electricity commitments through our world-beating commitment to deliver 40GW of offshore wind by 2030, including 1GW of floating wind, enough to power every home in the country – while attracting new offshore wind manufacturers to the UK.
  • Investing £1 billion in state-of-the-art carbon capture storage in four industrial clusters by 2030 – sucking carbon out of industrial processes to stop emissions escaping to the air. Four low carbon clusters will be set up by 2030, and at least one fully net zero cluster by 2040, stimulating the market to attract new investors and manufacturers to reinvigorate our industrial heartlands.
  • Investing £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways as well as up to £1 billion to support the electrification of cars, including for the mass-production of the batteries needed for electric vehicles.

“Today’s plan establishes a decisive and permanent shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels, towards cleaner energy sources that will put our country at the forefront of the global green industrial revolution,” said the UK’s Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma.

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