Greenpeace's recommendations to the 2006 Energy Review

Posted by bex — 28 April 2006 at 8:00am - Comments

Drax power station

Greenpeace has called on the UK government to recognise that our existing energy system is outdated, fragmented and inherently wasteful - and to start a wholesale regulatory and market reform to make decentralised energy the mainstay of the UK's energy system.

Submitting our recommendations to the Energy Review, Greenpeace has set out in detail the case against nuclear power as a solution to climate change and energy security. We have also set out the case in support of a decentralised energy system that genuinely incentivises the quick uptake of renewable energy at all levels, uses gas supplies efficiently, and provides a framework to reduce energy demand across all sectors.

We have made the submission with some resignation about its likely impacts. The government has largely failed to implement the recommendations for renewables and efficiency put forward by its 2003 Energy Review, the most comprehensive energy review in 60 years. This failure is the main reason for the government's renewed enthusiasm for nuclear power. If the consultation process is meant to be the basis for a new policy proposal on nuclear power, then, in our view, it is wholly inadequate, hasty, uninformed and its outcome apparently prejudged.

Nuclear power: wrong answer

Nuclear power will not stop climate change. According the Sustainable Development Commission, even if the current fleet of nuclear reactors was doubled, it would still only give an 8% cut in CO2 emissions by 2035. This compares to the government's target of 60% by 2050.

Nuclear power will not ensure energy efficiency. Presently, only 30% of the gas used in this country is used for electricity generation; the rest is used for heating. As nuclear power plants produce only electricity, nuclear can only help to mitigate our exposure to foreign gas markets for one third of our imports. Within this third, a replacement nuclear programme would only provide around 20% of our electricity capacity. Its contribution to lessening our dependence on foreign fuel supplies would be minimal.

Nuclear power relies on the hugely wasteful centralised energy model that has developed over the last 50 years; it is inflexible, costly, and hugely wasteful.

Decentralised energy: cleaner, cheaper, more secure

It is this profligate waste of energy that decentralised energy can mitigate. By generating close to the point of demand, wasted heat can be captured and used to provide heat for homes offices and industry.

Decentralised energy is a genuinely achievable pathway that will deliver greater cuts in CO2 and greater energy security than the centralised, nuclear option. By 2023, a decentralised energy approach across the UK as a whole could deliver:

  • CO2 savings 17% greater than under a centralised nuclear scenario.
  • Reductions in overall gas consumption 15% greater than compared to a centralised nuclear scenario.
  • Capital cost savings of ᆪ1bn compared to centralised nuclear scenario.

What is needed by government at the crucial stage in the fight against climate change is not a throw back to the energy mistakes of the past, but a shift towards an energy system that reflects the needs of the 21st Century: to use cleaner energy and use less of it.

Download the full Energy Review submission.

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