Utility Week

UTILITY Week 19th February 2016

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6 | 19th - 25th February 2016 | utILIty WeeK People & Opinion Lifetime extension good for the UK The UK needs diversified generation sources – and that means a place for nuclear. Chief executive's view Tom Greatrex, Nuclear Industry Association A mong the seemingly end- less speculation about Hinkley Point C, the announcement of plans to extend the life of four of the UK's current fleet of nuclear power stations is welcome news for our security of supply, carbon emissions and the local and regional economies around Hartlepool, Heysham and Torness (see news, p14). The stations, in the north of England and the east coast of Scotland, play a vital role both in maintaining low-carbon baseload power as part of our mix but also towards meeting our binding emissions targets. With one-fih of the UK's elec- tricity coming from nuclear gen- eration in the UK – in Scotland it is currently one-third – the importance of extended lifetimes cannot be overstated. It is also very obviously good news for the 3,000 people employed between the three sites, safeguarding high qual- ity, skilled jobs at a time when the economic headwinds have seen a general downturn in eco- nomic confidence, particularly outside of the southeast corner of England. Last year was one of the best years for output for the UK's nuclear fleet, providing the secure, reliable and depend- able baseload power which is the bedrock of a balanced energy mix, and doing so in a form that minimises carbon emissions. Vincent de Rivaz, while noting EDF's continued investment to make lifetime extensions pos- sible, was right to play fulsome tribute to the contribution of the operating teams at UK nuclear power stations to make that possible. While lifetime extensions of our current nuclear fleet help in the medium term as both gov- ernment policy and commercial reality see more thermal plant announce closure dates over the next few years, it is on new nuclear and developing tech- nologies, including potentially small modular reactors, that we need to focus. Alongside renew- ables, demand-side response technology, energy efficiency and peaking capacity, the role for nuclear in the decades ahead is a vital part of our broader mix. Observing, and sometimes contributing to, the wider energy debate in recent years has been endlessly fascinating. Amongst the passion, innovation and knowledge, one of the less upli- ing features is the tendency of some to focus on technology versus technology arguments, perhaps because it is a more comfortable place to rest than realising the reality of the scale of the challenge. While industry and investors will look to government to set the policy framework, it is also the responsibility of energy sec- tor to encourage a joined-up and inclusive approach, using the different characteristics of dif- ferent generation technologies to provide a broad generation mix for the future that both mini- mises emissions and maximises energy security. In Scotland, where nuclear, along with wind, solar and hydro power make up three-quarters of the power generated there, low- carbon energy sources combined make a significant contribu- tion to reducing emissions from homegrown energy. While it remains the case that Scotland continues to import power from the rest of Britain when wind speeds are low, the contribution of the newly extended Torness, and Hunt- erston on the west coast, is sig- nificant in being able to boast of a lower carbon mix. Across the UK as a whole, the proportion of power gener- ated from renewables is grow- ing, the government is keen to see new combined cycle gas tur- bines as old thermal and peak- ing plant closes, demand-side and storage technologies are making progress – but if we are serious about security of sup- ply while reducing emissions in power generation at a time when demand for power will increase from heat and transport, then nuclear power will be part of the energy landscape for the future as much as it has been over the past 50 years. "It is inconceivable that the Hinkley Point C site should become the most expensive landscaped gardens in the UK if work is stopped and the project does not go ahead" Paul Kenny, general secretary, GMB

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