Nuclear Power Stations DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton WaldristMain Page: Baroness Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist (Conservative - Life peer)
I thank the Minister for her Answer but the Government appear somewhat complacent about tackling what will be a crisis for our future energy supply, particularly the supply of electricity as demand for that rises. There is no doubt that the current civil nuclear programme is in complete disarray. We know that, alongside renewables, new nuclear power stations are necessary if we are to decarbonise our economy. I understand that the real problem is funding of nuclear power. Is the regulated asset-based model, used for example on the Tideway scheme, a possible way to fund new reactor projects? I believe we really must start funding nuclear power.
My Lords, I declare my registered interest and congratulate my noble friend on her new role. Does she agree that the aim of the present Government and their energy strategy is to move from 19% of electricity coming from nuclear power up to 30%? Does she also agree that the movement in that direction is extremely slow, with Wylfa suspended, Moorside cancelled, doubts about Sizewell C, the Chinese going ahead—we think—at Bradwell, and a question mark over Oldbury? The general level of progress looks thoroughly unsatisfactory. Can she ask her colleagues to ensure that a clear exposition of how this nuclear replacement fleet programme is going is presented to both Houses of Parliament very soon? From the outside, it does not look at all good.
My Lords, what assessment has been made of the possibility of further extending the life of the advanced gas-cooled reactor fleet beyond 2030? There is the potential to further extend the life of the three newest stations, which would help provide much needed low-carbon electricity until new nuclear capacity can be brought online.
My Lords, I welcome the Minister’s announcement that the White Paper is due because it is clear from your Lordships’ comments that an updating of the energy strategy is required. Can the Minister guarantee that it will include not just nuclear power but energy storage and the use of renewables to create a baseload so that we have a viable green strategy?
My Lords, the noble Baroness referred to the SMRs. Did the answer that she gave on the involvement of nuclear power stations in 2035 assume that no SMRs will be active by that time? Is that the Government’s policy and, if not, when will the SMRs come on stream?
My Lords, with regard to the reference by the noble Lord, Lord West, to 2035, is that not the year in which petrol and diesel vehicles will begin to be phased out? Is it not the case that at the moment those vehicles consume something like 453 terawatt hours of energy each year? Total UK electricity production is only 335 terawatt hours per year. Does that not mean that, when diesel and petrol cars and other vehicles are phased out, we will need to double electricity production? Surely that just illustrates the point that the noble Lord, Lord West, is making. With the phasing out of fossil fuel vehicles, we will need to double nuclear production in 2035—the equivalent of 20 Hinkley Point C stations. Is that really realistic?
My Lords, there have been persistent stories in the British media that future nuclear reactors will involve some input from the People’s Republic of China. Over recent months we have seen, overtly and covertly, how the American Administration have sought to frustrate the involvement of Huawei in 5G telephonic networks. What will Her Majesty’s Government’s reaction be if the American Administration take the same view about Chinese involvement in our nuclear power programme?