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Britain solidifies nuclear revival

Nov. 13, 2009 at 1:54 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- London has laid out the British energy future by identifying 10 sites for new nuclear power plants.

In a bid to boost energy security and drive down carbon dioxide emissions, the British government wants to have 10 nuclear power plants online by 2018. Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said earlier this week that nuclear power is a "proven, reliable source of low-carbon energy." He unveiled 10 sites in Wales and England where new power plants can be built. Miliband wants the reactors to generate a quarter of Britain's power, compared with 13 percent today.

Environmental groups have criticized the British government, pointing to the pitfalls of nuclear waste and arguing that London should bank on renewables instead. They have also blasted a decision to remove an old wind farm at Kirksanton to make way for a reactor.

But London claims it won't forget other clean energy sources, with Miliband reminding that his government made a pledge to have renewables account for 30 percent of the power mix in 2020.

"We think renewables, nuclear and clean fossil fuels are the trinity of low carbon fuels of the future, all of them have their role to play," Miliband said, according to the BBC. "We need all of them because the challenge of the low-carbon future is so significant."

Electricite de France, the French nuclear champion that has pledged to build at least four reactors, will lead Britain's nuclear revival.

German energy giants Eon and RWE have also decided to enter the British market. They formed a joint venture, Horizon Nuclear Power, and promised to invest around $25 billion in new nuclear power plants in Britain, the first of which is scheduled to go online by 2020, the companies said.

In a bid to speed up the planning process, London recently established the Infrastructure Planning Commission, a body closely linked to the government that aims to provide developers of nuclear power plants with speedy paperwork.

Most of Britain's aging nuclear power plants will be decommissioned by 2023. As a result, London decided last year to encourage the construction of new reactors.

Topics: Ed Miliband
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