The UK government’s Energy Review was published in July, only two years since the last. Few outside the nuclear industry were pleased with its findings – This analysis report was first published in Platform’s Carbon Web Newsletter Issue 5.
Despite the focus on new nuclear plants as the solution, the presentation to Parliament by Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, made no mention of nuclear power until three quarters of the way through his speech. Instead, Darling began by talking about energy efficiency in the home, making little of the 70% of UK emissions which emanate from industry and commerce, his own departmental responsibility.
Even British Gas was disappointed by the substance of the report, which it said missed an opportunity to help “nine million homes with insufficient insulation, wasting #1 in every #3 of their energy.”
The review did mention micro and distributed generation, but remains focused on centralised electricity generation and a market approach to energy supply, while incorporating much-criticised emissions trading and unproven carbon capture technologies, which might allow carbon dioxide to be stored underground.
Continued reliance on oil and gas was evident from Darling’s announcement that “Last month we saw a record number of applications for further development in the North Sea” and his acknowledgment that there would be increased dependence on imported oil and gas.
“This review cannot be reconciled with the government’s repeated commitment to . . . cut carbon dioxide by 60% by 2050,” said the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
The government claims that it will relax the planning system to make new nuclear power stations possible and to encourage renewable energy developments. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warned that reduced public consultation could hold up plans for new renewable energy by radicalising opposition.