Nuclear sector highlights low-carbon energy role as new figures released

The reactor dome of Sizewell B nuclear power station Picture: CHRIS RADBURN/PA WIRE

The reactor dome of Sizewell B nuclear power station Picture: CHRIS RADBURN/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

The nuclear industry has highlighted its role in the UK’s future energy mix, as new government figures showed that low-carbon electricity produced in 2017 rose above the 50% mark for total power generated.

The owners of Suffolk nuclear power station Sizewell B and the proposed Sizewell C plant pointed out that nuclear energy had been a reliable source of power during periods of high demand and low wind.

The 50.1% percentage share, up from 45.6% the previous year, consists of 21% nuclear, 14.8% onshore and offshore wind, 3.4% solar and 2.3% hydro.

Trade association the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) said nuclear power remained “the highest single source of low carbon power delivering reliable, secure and always available power to the grid whatever the weather”.

A spokesman for EDF, owner of Sizewell B and the Sizewell C project at Leiston, said: “Nuclear is a key part of the UK energy mix now and for the future. Sizewell B and other nuclear stations have provided large amounts of reliable low carbon electricity during periods of high demand last winter and during times with low wind output this summer.

“Sizewell C will help replace the majority of the UK’s existing nuclear and coal power stations as they are decommissioned in the next decade – while Sizewell B will continue for years to come. Both will create and maintain jobs and skills in the east of England in operation and construction both directly and with regional suppliers.”

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The Digest of UK Energy statistics (DUKEs) report has highlighted the continued vital role nuclear plays as part of the UK low carbon generation mix, contributing 21% of all electricity, and 41% of overall low carbon power in 2017.

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“While the UK has made great progress in meeting its decarbonisation targets, with the anticipated increase in electric vehicles and the electrification of heat, it is important the UK has a secure, reliable, low-carbon solution to meet this increased demand.”

He added: “Investment in new nuclear infrastructure is recognised as an integral part of the future mix in the UK government’s nuclear sector deal, particularly as all but one of our current fleet will retire by 2030.”

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