UK Prime Minister David Cameron promised a “bold transformation” of the country’s energy infrastructure in a speech at the Institute of Civil Engineering earlier this week.
As well as unveiling ambitious plans to overhaul the country’s road and rail networks through a programme of private-sector led investment, he said a similar approach is needed to create cleaner energy networks.
“We need to find diverse, secure sources of energy that can meet demand, keep prices stable and cut the impact of carbon on the planet,” he said. “[But] we’re powering our country through an out-of-date, inefficient grid and ageing, polluting power stations.”
What this country needs, he said, is a replacement for the coal plants scheduled for closure and an investment in modern gas power and “affordable” renewable energy.
And the “backbone” of that renewable energy will be nuclear power, with which he said the country must press ahead.
“I can confirm our intention to work with the private sector to deliver the new plants that companies would like to build between now and 2030,” he announced.
But he said that development would be without state subsidy, on time and maximise benefits to the UK economy in terms of jobs and manufacturing.
The comments rebuff warnings last week from leading environmentalists that the government’s current plans risk handing over control of the country’s nuclear future to overseas concerns.
However, he did add that this effort would be backed up with support for offshore wind for “hard-headed reasons” – no doubt in response to backbenches, who have questioned government support for renewable technologies.
“It’s one of the world’s fastest growing energy sources, which means substantial economic opportunities, [and] I believe we are well-placed to become a world leader in offshore wind power,” he said.
For further information:
UK Energy Secretary gives gas a boost (20-Mar)
Onshore wind farms cost UK households only £5 a year (19-Mar)
Sir Richard Branson calls on PM to back renewables (16-Mar)
UK handing over nuclear power to France, warn environmentalists (13-Mar)
21 March 2012