Rudd unveils new energy direction for Government

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd announced plans to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025, as part of the Government’s ‘energy reset’.

Speaking today at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, Ms Rudd said the Government will be launching a consultation next year on proposals to restrict the use of coal by 2023 and close all coal power stations by 2025.

She said that nuclear power and gas will play a central role in the future, as part of the Government’s new energy strategy.

“Opponents of nuclear misread the science. It is safe and reliable,” said Ms Rudd.

“The challenge, as with other low carbon technologies, is to deliver nuclear power which is low cost as well. Green energy must be cheap energy.

“It is imperative we do not make the mistakes of the past and just build one nuclear power station. There are plans for a new fleet of nuclear power stations, including at Wylfa and Moorside.”

She also said the Government would continue to support offshore wind on the condition that it comes down in cost.

“Today I can announce that – if, and only if, the Government’s conditions on cost reduction are met – we will make funding available for three auctions in this Parliament,” said Ms Rudd.

“We intend to hold the first of these auctions by the end of 2016,” she added. “On current plans we expect to see 10GW of offshore wind installed by 2020.”

The Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Dr Jenifer Baxter, said” “Although today’s announcement provides some clarity for investors, there is still no clear roadmap for how the UK will meet its ambitious carbon reduction targets especially leading up to United Nations meeting on Climate Change (COP21) in December. 

“The cheapest options for energy still remain the options that produce carbon emissions, like gas. The unfortunate reality is that by reducing spending, due to public sector cuts, it is likely to mean increasing emissions,” added Dr Baxter.

And the CEO of the Solar Trade Association, Paul Barwell, said the notion of replacing coal with another fossil fuel – in the shape of gas – makes ‘little sense’.

“Gas and large-scale solar will soon need very similar levels of support, but unlike gas, solar has the bonus of zero carbon emissions, future price certainty and no dependency on imports from unstable countries,” said Mr Barwell.

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues