Is E.ON/RWE’s cancellation of new nuclear plants a danger to British energy security?

Tony Lodge

The decision by the RWE/E.ON consortium to drop plans to build new nuclear power plants is arguably the biggest setback for UK nuclear strategy since the 1970s. It hugely undermines the government's plans to deliver a balanced and diverse portfolio of new nuclear investors, which is vitally important. It means that the bulk of the UK's new nuclear plants risk being built by French state-owned EDF, which has yet to provide an in-service delivery timetable for new plants. The government's proposed carbon price floor hugely benefits EDF, as it owns and runs the UK's existing nuclear plants. A high carbon price floor gives EDF a huge financial advantage, while penalising those companies – such as RWE and E.ON, that have large exposure to coal and gas generation. Both firms had opposed a carbon floor price in the government’s recent consultation, but this was ignored.

Tony Lodge is an energy analyst.

Jenny Jones

Nuclear power isn’t the answer to our energy needs and increasing our reliance would weaken the UK’s energy security. The Fukushima Daiichi disaster demonstrated its safety risks, and this decision shows its unjustifiable financial cost. Labour argued that building nuclear power stations would provide employment, but such jobs are few and temporary. In addition, nuclear power is unnecessary, contributing a mere 4 per cent of the UK’s current supply. Other cities have developed decentralised energy systems through strong public leadership. By meeting London’s energy needs within London, by focusing on renewable energy production, the capital’s residents would benefit from more jobs and lower energy bills, as sending energy long distances means a large proportion is lost during transmission. Neither the UK nor London should extend our reliance on this fatally flawed source of energy.

Jenny Jones is the Green party candidate for mayor of London.