Miliband appears before energy and climate change committee

Energy and climate secretary Ed Miliband has confirmed that the government’s nuclear national policy statement will be published in the autumn

Appearing for the first time before the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee yesterday, Mr Miliband stressed the role of new nuclear generation in diversifying the UK’s energy mix. He said: “I do think that climate change has changed our view on nuclear energy.”

He rejected comparisons over cost overruns and delays at the European pressurised water reactor being built by TVO in Finland, which is seen as a model for new nuclear capacity. The UK’s ongoing Generic Design Assessment would ensure lessons learned are incorporated into future new-build.

Nevertheless, he conceded that much of the problem had been due to skill shortages, which are also apparent in the UK. Consequently, the UK is addressing the training and recruitment issues and raising pay at the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

On coal-fired generation, Miliband rejected suggestions of a moratorium on new coal-fired plant. But he accepted the need to look beyond the concept of “carbon capture and storage ready” plant and towards driving investment into CCS demonstration plants.

On carbon budgets, he stressed these were “a very new concept”, presenting novel challenges. Given the economic implications, he said: “We are working very closely with the Treasury”. One issue to resolve was dealing with a failure to keep within budgets.

Colin Challen MP welcomed the forthcoming introduction of feed-in tariffs, but expressed concern that both community and household grant schemes under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme would be closed. This would undermine microrenewables’ ability to achieve the Zero Carbon Homes target in 2016, he stressed. Mr Miliband confirmed DECC was looking at possible problems due to the temporary policy gap.

On speculation over possible measures to stabilise the carbon price, Mr Miliband confirmed to ENDS that price floors “were not the way to go”.

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