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Now that Japanese giants Toshiba and Hitachi have walked away from UK nuclear power projects that had previously been abandoned by others, it has forced the government to reassess the pro-nuclear bias of its energy policy. Greg Clark, the UK business secretary, has recognised that nuclear power is no longer cost competitive with renewable energy, but don't expect any extra push into the cheaper technology.
There is easily enough solar and wind energy available to make up for the cancellation of the nuclear projects and to produce the low-carbon electricity required to make the UK's 2030 carbon emissions targets achievable. Instead, however, the country's incentives and regulations favour developing more power plants driven by natural gas. Having hacked back emissions from power by over two-thirds since 1990, progress with decarbonising the grid risks coming to an end.
UK - Parliament - Committee - Climate - Change
According to the UK parliament's Committee on Climate Change, the UK needs to cut power emissions from about 265g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour in 2017 to under 100g by 2030. The government had been substantially relying on nuclear power to do this, having originally identified eight sites as viable for new plants. Six projects were taken forward, including Hitachi and Toshiba plants in Wales and Cumbria respectively.
Yet despite much larger government incentives than those available for renewables, most private nuclear builders are now steering clear, having seen the problems with new plants in the likes of the US and France. The only two projects still on the slate are a joint venture by EDF of France and CGN of China – both foreign state-owned companies. They are building the UK's first new plant in over two decades, Hinkley C in south-west England; while also planning a second, Bradwell B, in the south east.
Announcement - Hitachi - Wylfa - Plant - Wales
Even before the latest announcement that Hitachi's Wylfa plant in Wales...
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