To meet demand for energy, by 2025 the UK will need to install new electricity generating capacity to replace power stations that are currently approaching the end of their functional lives. In addition, the UK is required to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
The UK Government recognises the significant role nuclear energy can play in meeting these two objectives. EDF Energy supports the Government’s position, and is committed to helping achieve its vision of generating electricity from secure, affordable, low-carbon sources.
Nuclear adds balance and diversity
To provide a secure energy supply, the UK needs a diverse and balanced energy mix, rather than relying too heavily on a small number of energy sources. The Government has already committed to increasing the proportion of the UK’s energy derived from renewable sources to 15% by 2020. This is a positive step towards a more diverse energy mix. But the intermittency and cost of harnessing some renewable sources, such as wind and solar energy, mean that affordable generating plants which are more constant are also necessary. Nuclear power stations are ideally placed to fulfil this role, as they are capable of generating low-carbon electricity reliably.
The next generation of nuclear power
EDF Energy’s parent company, EDF, owns and operates the world’s largest fleet of civil nuclear power stations – providing significant experience of the nuclear energy sector to draw on when determining a strategy for nuclear energy in the UK.
Since acquiring British Energy in 2009, EDF Energy has owned and operated eight of the UK’s ten nuclear power stations. The company has plans to expand two of its sites, Hinkley Point and Sizewell, by building four new latest-generation nuclear reactors. The proposal is to use the European pressurised water reactor (EPR) design, currently under construction by EDF in Flamanville, France and Taishan, China.
The UK Government has stated that Sizewell and Hinkley Point are potentially suitable sites for new nuclear reactors, and the suitability of the EPR design is currently being assessed by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, which have said it is capable of being accepted. EDF Energy aims to bring the first UK EPR on line in time for when the UK needs it.