Energy policy review

1 February 2002

Leaked reports on the country's energy review, due out this month, suggest that the United Kingdom government will keep the nuclear option open.

At the end of June last year, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, announced that the Performance and Innovation Unit (PIU) was to carry out a review of the strategic issues surrounding energy policy for the country (see NEI July 2001, p9; September 2001, p9 and October 2001, p3).

In the leaked report, the PIU recommends that the nuclear industry should meet its external costs fully, but suggests the government set the framework to make private investment in nuclear more likely.

Renewables feature strongly, with governmental support recommended if the country is to meet 20% of its energy needs from solar, wind and wave power by 2020. At present renewables contribute less than 1%.

The energy minister, Brian Wilson, who chaired the advisory group for the project, said that the government may not necessarily adopt the PIU's recommendations. He denied speculation that investment in nuclear would be unsustainable, and said: "I certainly think that, for the foreseeable future, nuclear power has a part to play in meeting Britain's energy needs."

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