New build nuclear power is ‘vital part of UK decarbonisation’

The Confederation of British Industry has written a letter to the government setting out how best to secure a long-term approach to cutting emissions

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New build nuclear power stations are a vital part of the UK’s journey to producing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

That’s according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which has written a letter to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Greg Clark setting out how best to “secure a long-term approach towards decarbonising our economy”.

In it, the organisation calls on the government to use a forthcoming Energy White Paper to give more clarity on its vision and outlined a number of steps it says must be taken to secure investor confidence, support shifts in consumer behaviour and maintain competitiveness across British industry.

It urges policymakers to progress large-scale nuclear projects and support new and innovative nuclear technologies such as Small Modular Reactors – to ensure affordability for customers it notes the government should explore proposals for innovative financing mechanisms and “maximise the potential cost-savings of follow-on projects to Hinkley Point C.

The letter also states CCS is a “necessity, not an option” to go net-zero by 2050 and notes the technology provides a unique capacity to address both industrial process emissions and help clean up the heat, power and transport sectors.

The CBI calls for trials to be undertaken to determine the best solutions to fully decarbonise heat in homes, offices and industry as well as highlighting consumers and businesses must be increasingly incentivised and encouraged to buy electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles – it adds the relevant charging infrastructure must be in place for this to be effective.

The letter also notes the tax and business rates system should be rationalised to ensure green energy is encouraged and says the UK should host the COP26 climate talks to showcase its expertise and ambition with regards to decarbonising.

CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said: “Business is right behind the need for the UK to have a net-zero economy by 2050 and build on our global leadership in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“Firms want to see a whole host of stable, long-term policies enacted – from building new nuclear power stations to scaling-up carbon capture and storage technology and infrastructure – that send markets a robust signal: the UK is open for green business and is a world leader in tackling climate change.”

A BEIS spokesperson said: “We are proud to be a bidder for the pivotal upcoming UN climate change talks – as well as being the first major economy to set a 2050 net zero target solidly in law.

“We have a thriving diverse, clean energy mix, and are absolutely committed to a low carbon future through our landmark £200 million nuclear sector deal, plus £50 million to capture carbon before it enters the air through innovative new clean tech. Our energy White Paper will be published this summer.”