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Costs to rise and emissions to triple in power sector by 2030 should UK abandon nuclear power in favour of a mix of wind and gas, study says


27 Sep 2018



LONDON, September 27, 2018 – Should the UK heed the calls to abandon nuclear power, in favour of the seemingly cheaper mix of natural gas and renewables, electricity generation costs would rise by 15% and power sector carbon intensity would rise from 51 gCO2/kWh to 186gCO2/kWh in 2030. The report, commissioned by The New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI), was launched in London on Thursday.

Set in the context of the UK power sector in 2030, the report, The False Economy of Abandoning Nuclear Power: Techno-Zealotry and the Transition Fuel Narrative, finds that favouring natural gas over nuclear power in the generation mix would negatively affect both electricity costs and the environment.

Commenting on the study findings, Tim Yeo, Chairman of NNWI, said:

“We often hear that new nuclear build is expensive. It turns out that, in fact, if all hidden costs are factored in, abandoning nuclear comes at an even higher price.

 “The report's conclusions are stark. Abandoning nuclear power leads unavoidably to a very big increase in carbon emissions which will prevent Britain from meeting its legally binding climate change commitments.

“The message is clear: If the UK is to successfully meet the challenges faced by its power sector, the world’s only source of low-carbon baseload power generation - nuclear - must feature strongly in its ambitions.

The report finds that reliance on natural gas to ensure the stability of electricity supply will substantially increase the difficulty of realising mitigation targets. It stresses that despite the well-documented advantages of combusting natural gas for electricity over coal, gas remains a carbon-intensive energy source; concluding that the UK will not be able to achieve its emission reduction targets for 2030, and beyond, if the transition fuel narrative is implemented.

The transition fuel narrative (TFN) is the claim that natural gas is capable of reducing coal-based emissions, acting as a bridge from the present to a renewable-dependent future (when advances in renewable and storage technology have become reliable and, thus, our sole sources of energy). Yet, according to the report, TFN supporters fail to acknowledge that the rising cost of emitting carbon will more than offset current low fuel costs; the levelised cost of gas-fired electricity is forecast to rise by 60% between 2018 and 2030.



Notes to the Editor:

About NNWI

Founded by Tim Yeo at the end of 2014 New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE) is an interest group which has been established to help ensure nuclear power is recognised as an important and desirable way for European governments to meet the long-term security needs of their countries. Membership is open to all companies, individuals and organisations active in the nuclear industry including those involved in the supply chain.

The New Nuclear Watch Institute (NNWI) is the first think-tank focused purely on the international development of nuclear energy. It believes that nuclear energy is vital for the world to achieve their binding Paris Climate Agreement objectives. Its research will aim to promote, support, and galvanise the worldwide community to fight the greatest challenge of our time: climate change.

Report: The False Economy of Abandoning Nuclear Power: Techno-Zealotry and the Transition Fuel Narrative

On Thursday 27th September the New Nuclear Watch Institute will publish its report 'The False Economy of Abandoning Nuclear Power'.   

This in-depth report analyses the often-made assertion that the use of natural gas as a 'bridge fuel' to back up intermittent renewable generation represents the cost optimal approach by which to bring about power sector decarbonisation while nuclear power is no longer affordable and so ought to be abandoned.

It presents a stark warning that attempting to do so would not only impose high financial costs on industry and consumers alike but also lead to a substantial increase in carbon emissions, rendering the achievement of climate targets all but impossible.

The report is the second to be published by NNWI and follows the publication of 'The Electricity Market of Southeast Europe: The Impact of New Trends and Policies' in May 2018.


The full text of the report is available on the NNWI website.


For more information please contact:

Veronika Struharova

+44 (0) 7534 132492