The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is an independent body launched by George Osborne in 2015 to look into the UK’s future energy infrastructure needs. It has today recommended in its newly-published National Infrastructure Assessment that the UK government reconsider its plans on building more nuclear power stations to meet future carbon emission reduction targets. Instead, the Commission has suggested that renewable energy is where the government should be looking to meet the UK’s future energy needs.
The NIC has said that a decade ago, it seemed unlikely that renewables could be a major part of energy generation in the UK, as they were quite simply too expensive to be a realistic option. Since then, we have seen rapid price falls in the renewables sector, which means that generating more of our energy from renewables in the future looks much more affordable. The NIC argues that wind and solar could now deliver the same energy generating capacity as nuclear power stations, for the same cost, but with less risk to the environment. For these reasons, the government has been advised to approve the creation of no more than one further nuclear power station after Hinkley Point C before at least 2025.
The National Infrastructure Assessment says that renewables currently supply around 30% of our energy, up from 12% just five years ago. Data from energy analysts EnAppSys supports this finding, with their latest figures showing that wind, solar and biomass power stations produced over 28% of the UK’s energy from April to June 2018. In the same period, nuclear power generated 22.5%. It’s the third quarter in a row that renewables have outstripped nuclear power for energy generation in the UK. The NIC’s National Infrastructure Assessment has todayrecommended that the government aims to achieve 50% of total energy generation being provided by renewables by 2030.
The NIC’s Chairman, Sir John Armitt has said that investing in renewables provided a ‘golden opportunity’ for the UK to produce greener, more affordable energy. He went on to say:
“Ministers can seize this chance by investing in renewables and other low-carbon technologies so they become the main players in our energy system – something that was considered a pipedream as little as a decade ago.”