10 July 2006
Barrett backs moves against ‘quick fix’ nuclear build
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today backed moves in parliament against a new generation of nuclear power stations and called on the Government to do more to encourage energy efficiency.
A new report by the Institute for Public Policy research revealed that almost four times more energy could be saved through energy efficiency measures over the next two decades than could be generated by replacing all the UK’s nuclear reactors.
Mr Barrett has today thrown his support behind a motion in parliament calling on the Government to abandon plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations in favour of investment in renewable sources and energy efficiency measures.
John Barrett said:
“We keep hearing from the Government that we need new nuclear power stations to plug the energy gap facing this country. This latest report shows that this is simply not true.
“The most sensible way to ensure security of supply and avoid astronomical expense is to use our energy more efficiently. Apart from onshore wind farms, investment in energy efficiency is the most cost effective energy strategy.
“Nuclear is a tried, tested and failed technology with far higher costs than the renewable alternatives or and energy efficiency measures. In 2002 alone the Government spent £410 million bailing out the nuclear industry. This money would have been more than enough to supply every house in Britain with three energy saving light bulbs.
“Scotland has massive potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency – What is lacking is the political will. It is time for the Government to give up on nuclear power as a quick fix to our energy needs. We should instead be fully committing ourselves to innovative energy efficiency proposals and to clean, renewable sources of energy.”
· Mr Barrett has added his name to Early Day Motion 2204 – NEW NUCLEAR BUILD
That this House believes that the argument for new nuclear build in the UK has not been made; notes that even with an accelerated planning system, new nuclear power stations could not contribute either to plugging the `energy gap' or to carbon reductions by 2020 when existing electricity generating capacity is run down and carbon emissions have to be curbed; further notes that existing electricity generation is provided by 40 per cent. gas, 33 per cent. coal, 19 per cent. nuclear and four per cent. renewables, that massive investment in new infrastructure is providing for a diversity of gas supply from many countries including Norway, with Russian gas only around one per cent. and that new clean coal technologies are now available; further notes that the supply of wind power is growing faster than predicted, and that in Germany wind power capacity is already equivalent to UK nuclear capacity; further believes that new nuclear build would be inconsistent with environmental sustainability, adding to the legacy of highly toxic nuclear waste and the huge public cost of decommissioning and storage; urges the Government to see the bigger picture in which electricity accounts for just 18 per cent. of total energy consumed and energy use by sector was last recorded as 36 per cent. transport, 30 per cent. domestic, 21 per cent. industry and 13 per cent. other; and further urges the Government to recognise the enormous potential for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by energy efficiency and conservation, greater use of combined heat and power, and rapid investment in the full range of renewable technologies, including microgeneration.
· The Liberal Democrats have developed an alternative strategy for meeting the energy gap and tackling climate change, whilst ensuring security of supply for the UK, based on 5 key policies:
1. Energy efficiency
2. Microgeneration, with decentralised energy transmission & distribution grids
3. Renewable energy, including wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, solar & biomass
4. Carbon capture & storage, with clean coal technology
5. Environmental taxation
This approach builds upon ideas in the Government’s Energy Review published only 3 years ago. It is informed by the Royal Commission’s report in 2000 and various other independent, authoritative reports such as the recent ILEX study. All these show that it is possible to have a low carbon, non-nuclear secure energy strategy.
Opportunities for increased energy efficiency are substantial, and include:
· Domestic micro combined heat and power (CHP), where both electricity and heating are produced from one boiler, improves efficiency in homes by 20%
· Improved wall insulation, double glazing, draught excluders, loft insulation & energy saving light bulbs to dramatically reduce domestic electricity demand
· In the public sector, the Government could demand the highest possible standards, and make it the top priority in all procurement
· Energy Saving Packages to those in danger of fuel poverty could be dramatically improved to encourage investment in insulation and heat saving technologies, starting with more intelligent use of the annual £2 billion Winter Fuel Allowance
· The UK could save 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions if people did not leave their TV’s on standby. This equates to almost 3% of the total cuts in CO2 emissions needed by 2010 to meet the 20% target cut on 1990 levels