The UK government is committed through the Climate Change Act 2008 and international agreements to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050.
A new nuclear plant at Hinckley Point has recently been approved by the government, yet there are concerns about the safety of nuclear energy. Discuss the argument in favour and against Hinckley Point.
Hinckley Point C is set to generate electricity for the UK by 2025, and will deliver 7% of country’s electricity. The case for nuclear energy includes securing future energy supplies when fossil fuels are depleting and the UK is reliant on imported energy (Allen 2007). A further argument in favour of nuclear energy is the fact that it is a low-carbon energy. At present the UK government is committed through the Climate Change Act 2008 and international agreements to reducing carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050 compared to 1990 base year levels. These levels of carbon reductions can only be achieved if the country has the capacity to produce clean energy and while there are environmental and security concerns regarding nuclear energy, it can be an effective measure in producing low-carbon electricity (Moylan 2016).
However, there are arguments against nuclear energy, with Ashwell (2016) citing research conducted by the University of London, which suggests that the plant will be obsolete within ten years of operation, largely because renewables such as wind and solar energy will have a secure foothold in the energy mix by 2035. Nuclear energy is an emotive issue, particularly in relation to the time taken to deliver these projects. For example, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC 2016) note that it has taken over ten years to get to this stage of the project, during which time the project budget and proposed programme have increased. Ashwell (2016, p.1) argues that energy consumers will pay “tens of billions of pounds” for the first 35 years of operation during a period when the cost of renewables will be decreasing.
The solution to the future provision of energy for the country and carbon targets is to develop a mix of different technologies including nuclear, offshore and onshore wind power along with solar power, hydro, tidal and wave power (CCC 2016).
Allen, P. 2007. Criteria for a Sustainable Energy Future In Elliott, D., (ed.) Nuclear Or Not? Does Nuclear Power Have a Place in a Sustainable Energy Future? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.59-72.
Ashwell, E., 2016. New Civil Engineer 3rd October 2016 “Hinckley risks being ‘increasingly obsolete”. [online]. Available at [accessed 12th October 2016].
Committee on Climate Change, 2016. Energy policy is about more than Hinckley, says CCC. [online]. Available at < https://www.theccc.org.uk/2016/09/20/hinkleystatement/ > [accessed 13th October 2016].
Moylan, J., 2016. BBC News 16th September 2016 “Hinckley Point: What is it and why is it important?” [online]. Available at < http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36897180 > [accessed 12th October 2016].