Britain is pushing for nuclear energy as it tries to end its dependence on Russia

The British government unveiled on Thursday its plan to increase the country’s energy independence as European nations try to rapidly reduce energy imports from Russia over the war in Ukraine.

The cornerstone of Britain’s plan is to increase nuclear capacity to deliver up to eight reactors this decade. Under the energy security plan, the country will seek to increase its capacity to 24 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2050, or a quarter of expected electricity demand. There will also be more oil and gas projects in the North Sea and the expansion of offshore wind and solar energy. The government has said it wants to wean Britain off expensive fossil fuels.

The plan “will reduce our dependence on energy sources exposed to volatile international prices that we cannot control,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Last month, Britain announced it would phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year. Russian gas supplies are not affected. But wholesale and, to a lesser extent, oil prices rose even before Russia invaded Ukraine, hampering industrial production and shrinking household budgets. In the UK, energy bills jumped 54 percent this month for most households and were expected to rise again in October as energy prices were still volatile.

But the government’s plan was met with harsh criticism. Industry groups and activists say the energy security strategy has failed to address the challenges facing households from rising energy costs, as it does not include a plan for increase energy efficiency – especially by insulating homes – or new land-based wind targets.

It was “the perfect opportunity to set out a decade-long plan to isolate people from volatile energy prices,” said Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, a charity to fight fuel poverty. He is silent on this important issue.

The government’s plan includes an incentive to speed up the production and use of heat pumps, an alternative to domestic gas boilers worth up to 30 million pounds, or $ 39 million.

Others have condemned the plan to expand oil and gas projects in the North Sea, although Britain has ambitious climate change goals set out in the law. The government has said it will support local oil and gas in the “closer plan” as it hopes to make 95 percent of low-carbon electricity by 2030.

The government’s plan aims to quadruple offshore wind capacity by 2030 with accelerated planning permits. But onshore wind targets have been silenced amid internal opposition in the ruling Conservative Party. The government has said it will consult on developing partnerships with a limited number of communities wishing to have wind turbines. The plan also included a goal of increasing low-carbon hydrogen production capacity to 10 gigawatts by the end of the decade as part of Britain’s efforts to reduce emissions.

“Replacing gas with more nuclear energy has lower carbon emissions, but nuclear energy is not renewable and not cheap,” said Darren Jones, an MP from the opposition Labor Party and chairman of the parliamentary committee overseeing energy policy. . . “It is disappointing that the government has again failed to take full advantage of the onshore wind and solar capacity.

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