LONDON — The British government has pledged to put new nuclear power at the heart of its plan to wean Britain off imported fossil fuels.
In a new energy strategy, ministers pledged to deliver the equivalent of one nuclear reactor every year instead of one per decade, alongside major boosts in renewable energy programmes.
But oil and gas exploration in the North Sea will expand in the short term, while the government has also indicated a new openness to fracking for shale gas.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was drawing up a plan to “scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and safe energy made in Britain, for Britain”.
But shadow business secretary Ed Miliband said the plan had “failed on the sprint we needed on onshore wind and solar” and would leave households burdened with skyrocketing bills.
The UK, alongside other countries, is facing a severe cost of living crisis due to rising international fuel prices, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Britain has pledged to phase out imported oil and coal from Russia by the end of 2022, and is expected to do the same for Russian gas.
The new plan promises to generate 24GW of nuclear power by 2050, including through new technological mini-reactors, accounting for around a quarter of UK electricity demand. In 2019, nuclear provided 17% of the country’s electricity, according to an analysis by the House of Lords. This energy comes from 13 nuclear reactors spread over six power stations.
Johnson’s government is also promising planning rule reform to accelerate offshore wind development and offer cheaper fuel bills in areas that allow local onshore wind farms.
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