Britain’s new energy policy calls for more nukes as well as renewables

Surprising no one, the British government yesterday unveiled a pro-nuclear energy policy. Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling defensively told Parliament that the challenges of global warming and energy self-sufficiency “are so great that we cannot afford to rule out any low-carbon energy source that could help.” All but one of Britain’s 23 nuclear plants will be shuttered by 2023; Darling suggested building up to six new plants, though without government subsidies. He claimed Britain could reduce annual carbon emissions by up to 27 million tons by 2020 with a combination of nuclear technology, renewables (pledged to provide 20 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2020), carbon-captured coal, biofuels, and conservation measures. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both bashed Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration for producing such a nuke-friendly plan. Conservative Party spokesperson Alan Duncan derided it as “not carbon-free” but “content-free.”