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Boris Johnson in ‘gung ho’ push for more nuclear power as energy crisis starts to bite

Boris Johnson will outline to industry leaders on Monday what one minister called his “gong ho” approach to strengthening Britain’s nuclear energy sector, with officials preparing plans that could aim to increase by five times its capacity by 2050.

The prime minister has vowed this month to carry out a “series of new big bets on nuclear energy” and government insiders say this may hint at the construction of at least half a dozen big new stations between 2030 and 2050.

Chancellor Rishi Sonak last week put the brakes on Johnson’s plans to set an energy security strategy this week, amid the Treasury’s concerns about the cost to the public purse. New nuclear power plants each require close to £ 20 billion to build and the industry is prone to cost overruns.

Sonak, who is presenting his spring statement this week, is trying to delay spending to give him room to cut taxes. “We need to work more on the nuclear strategy before we move forward,” said one of the chancellor’s allies.

But one cabinet minister said: “Boris has had something like an evangelical conversion, in recent months – he was really crazy about a nucleus.” The energy strategy is expected to arrive before the end of the month.

The war in Ukraine and the glorious cost of natural gas have boosted Johnson’s desire to increase Britain’s local energy supply, and his new strategy will define plans for a major expansion of wind and solar power.

But the new nuclear strategy, designed to breathe new life into a sector involving planning and financial difficulties, will be the most sensitive and difficult to implement as ministers push towards a “zero-zero” emissions target in 2050.

Government insiders say they expect the new energy strategy to set a target for nuclear power generation by 2050 that represents a huge increase over existing plans.

All but one of Britain’s existing fleets of six nuclear power plants are due to retire by 2030, leaving Only 4.45GW of nuclear capacity – Half of the output compared to the beginning of the decade.

But one official working on the energy strategy said a 24GW target by 2050 would be “reasonable”; Any large new nuclear plant, such as the one under construction at Hinckley Point C, can produce just over 3 GW.

Cross parties Pro-nuclear group MPs called on ministers to produce a roadmap calling for 15 GW of new nuclear production by 2035 and 30 GW by 2050. Nuclear capacity installed Reached a peak of 12.7GW In 1995.

Johnson will on Monday host a round table of leaders in the nuclear industry to discuss local energy security and UK nuclear projects, including large-scale power plants and small modular reactors (SMRs).

Downing Street said the prime minister would discuss “the way the government and industry can work together to remove barriers and advance future UK nuclear projects faster and cheaper”.

But the problems with the transfer of the program are considerable. The Ministry of Finance’s opposition is delaying the progress of plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Wylfa in Anglesey, according to senior government officials.

Wylfa has the potential to be the UK’s third major project in the new nuclear program – behind Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C – but it is in a state of hiatus.

Hitachi, the Japanese conglomerate, inflicted a major blow to the government when it abandoned plans to build a nuclear power plant at Wylfa in 2019 – a $ 2.8 billion write-off on the project.

Since then the American nuclear company Westinghouse has set up a consortium with the construction group at Kattel to revive the plans. The companies want to build either one or two nuclear reactors at the site along with – potentially – some SMRs of the type developed by Rolls-Royce.

Johnson seems to be enthusiastic about Wylfa’s prospects as part of the acceleration of the nuclear program.

But Treasury Department numbers, including Sunak, are considered more cautious given that implementing the plan will require generous support from government and taxpayers.

“With Rishi it’s not as if he is saying no to Wilfa, but there is a sense of caution in the treasury that seems to be holding back progress,” said one senior government official.

Boris Johnson in ‘gung ho’ push for more nuclear power as energy crisis starts to bite Source link Boris Johnson in ‘gung ho’ push for more nuclear power as energy crisis starts to bite

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