Building a brighter energy future for the UK
Energy drives development, which is why the UK is committed to developing a low-carbon system that makes sure enough energy is available, affordably. To ensure that we have enough low-carbon electricity from 2030 onwards, we need to make choices. Find out about the challenges we face, how supply is currently met, and how EDF Energy plans to lead the energy change to create a stable energy future.
Keeping the lights on
We take a look at some of the electricity supply challenges in the UK.
Investment in new generation is needed
Around 30GW of existing reliable capacity (out of around 75GW today) is expected to shut down by 2030, so substantial investment in new power generation is required.
Fuel sources are running out
If existing reserves of fossil fuels like coal and gas are used to generate energy at expected rates, they could run out in the next century. Unless alternative sources are found.
Carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced
In 2013, 31% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions came from power stations, and more than half the electricity they generate is from fossil fuels. To meet new carbon reduction targets, we need to increase the electricity generated from low-carbon sources.
Finding the right solution
The UK needs to find a way to produce more electricity in a cleaner, greener way if we don’t want to suffer an energy shortfall in the very near future.
The UK’s electricity demands are currently met by energy generated from a range of sources: nuclear energy, fossil fuels – that's coal, gas and oil – and renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro. This is known as the energy mix.
Each energy source has strengths and weaknesses. Current reserves of fossil fuel, like gas and coal, are running out fast. They’re also the biggest culprits of CO2 emissions, so generating more electricity with these isn’t a credible long-term option. Renewable sources can be unpredictable and depend on certain conditions - and the equipment needed is relatively expensive - so they aren’t a large-scale, reliable option either.
Nuclear is the lowest-cost, large-scale, low-carbon electricity generation option in the UK.
Nuclear power generation depends on a reliable, natural resource that is abundant in many places around the world. The stations need significant upfront investment to build, but this is offset by the very low running costs. And while it produces radioactive waste that has to be safely managed, it produces almost no carbon dioxide.
By finding the right mix of energy sources, the UK can balance out the strengths and weaknesses of each individual source. We believe that the largest part of this mix must be nuclear power. The positives far outweigh the negatives, and we think it’s our strongest energy option now and for the future.
From April 2013 to March 2014, this is how much CO2 was produced.
Why we believe nuclear can meet the UK’s demands
It uses an abundant natural resource
The raw material used to create fuel for nuclear power stations is uranium ore. It comes from stable, dependable regions around the world, and there’s thought to be as much of it on our planet as tin. It’s powerful stuff too - a single uranium fuel pellet, which is about the size of a peanut, can produce as much energy as 800kg of coal.
It is one of the lowest carbon power sources
Nuclear power generation has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any energy source, producing almost no carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, most of the carbon dioxide produced is during the construction of the stations. In an average year, our nuclear power stations help avoid about 43.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions – that’s like taking more than half the cars off the UK’s roads.
It meets the toughest safety regulations in the world
The UK nuclear industry has an excellent safety record going back more than fifty years. The radioactive waste we produce is stored safely and securely for a number of decades, while the heat and radioactivity diminish.
It has low running costs
Building nuclear stations is expensive, but this is balanced out by the fact that the ongoing energy generation costs of nuclear power are incredibly low. We believe nuclear power is the cheapest large-scale, low-carbon generating technology.
It doesn’t need much land
Nuclear stations need relatively little land, considering the volume of electricity they produce.
It supports local communities
Our nuclear power stations currently support thousands of high quality jobs. Operating our eight stations takes the hard work of more than 6,600 people. And the positive impact on the communities we’re part of is huge – our Torness site alone boosts the local economy by almost £33 million in an average year.