In a speech at this week’s CBI conference, Mr Blair said the review of energy policy would “include specifically the issue of whether we facilitate the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations”.
Mr Blair said that by 2020, “the UK is likely to have seen decommissioning of coal and nuclear plants that together generate over 30 per cent of today's electricity supply.” And he added that “some of this will be replaced by renewables, but not all of it can”.
The review aims to ensure the UK is on track to meet the goals set out in the 2003 Energy White Paper, including those on carbon dioxide emissions and security of energy supplies. But it breaks from the paper’s statement that nuclear power’s economics make it an “unattractive option” for new, carbon-free generating capacity.
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, who is leading the review focusing on measures beyond 2010, admitted the Government faces difficult decisions. However, he insisted it was not “a choice of nuclear versus renewables.”
Environmental groups fear that the Government has already decided to pursue the nuclear option, despite unresolved problems with safety, waste and cost. The Green Alliance has warned that this possibility could undermine investment in renewable energy.
The review’s findings are due to be published in summer 2006.