The UK could build up to seven new nuclear plants by 2050, according to the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph.
We’re still waiting for the UK Government to announce its comprehensive energy strategy, which it promised would boost the UK’s energy security in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, we’re now getting tidbits of information as to what this strategy may include, before its official release on Thursday.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Kwarteng noted that nuclear power is likely to play a big role in the UK’s energy strategy, with the Business Secretary envisioning that “there is a world where we have six or seven sites in the UK.” He did not specify as to whether those sites were all large nuclear power stations, like those planned at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C, or whether the number also includes Rolls-Royce’s Small Nuclear Reactors.
If the number does include the SMRs, that would be significantly fewer reactors than Rolls-Royce was planning. In fact, the company envisioned a fleet of 16 Small Nuclear Reactors, which would have generated enough power for 7.2 million homes. That’s why it’s likely that Kwarteng was talking exclusively about large nuclear power stations, which would certainly be a major turnaround for the nuclear industry in the UK, which has struggled to construct any new power station due to constant planning difficulties.
This Government doesn’t fear any planning difficulties in the future, however. In fact, it’s planning to set up a new development vehicle dubbed Great British Nuclear which will identify sites and cut through the usual red tape to speed up the process of constructing new nuclear power stations. This could be how the UK Government plans to have six or seven new nuclear power stations before 2050.
It’s reported that both Kwarteng and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are keen to increase nuclear power’s share of the energy mix in the UK, rising from the current 7 GW it provides today to more than 24 GW by 2050.
More wind needed
Nuclear power isn’t going to be the only factor in the UK Government’s strategy to secure the UK’s energy future. In fact, wind power is set to be the cornerstone of any new strategy, which could include onshore, offshore and floating wind farms.
In his interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Kwarteng confirmed that those living in areas near proposed wind farms could be offered discounted energy bills in exchange for supporting their development. Meanwhile, Johnson supposedly had a meeting with renewable industry leaders where he called upon them to build a “colossal” offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea which would provide “gigawatts of energy within a year.”