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The UK has announced a major nuclear power generation capacity expansion, with the government calling it the "biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years”.
“Nuclear is the perfect antidote to the energy challenges facing Britain – it's green, cheaper in the long-term and will ensure the UK's energy security,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, as quoted by media.
“This is the right long-term decision and is the next step in our commitment to nuclear power, which puts us on course to achieve net zero by 2050 in a measured and sustainable way,” Sunak added.
The news comes on the heels of a recent report that French EDF plans to extend the lives of the nuclear power plants it operates in the UK. The company said it would invest the equivalent of some $1.65 billion in the initiative, aiming to maintain current power output levels from its nuclear power plants until at least 2026.
“These lifetimes will be reviewed again by the end of 2024 and the ambition is to generate beyond these current forecasts, subject to plant inspections and regulatory approvals,” EDF said.
Nuclear, which many climate activists slam for not being green or renewable enough has recently made a comeback, except in Germany in Spain. The rest of the world, however, seems to have realized that the rush to net-zero will not happen without nuclear, saying as much at last year’s COP28.
The UK has some of the most ambitious transition targets, with a massive buildout in wind power capacity in the plans. However, it is also struggling to rein in a cost of living crisis that some commentators of local energy policies have attributed to those same plans.
The country’s current nuclear power capacity of 6 GW is spread across nine reactors at five sites. Six other reactors have been shut down since 2021. Another two sites are planned to be built, one of them at least with a capacity of over 3 GW. By 2050, the country’s government plans to have 24 GW in capacity.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.