Britain needs more nuclear power, electric chargers for climate goal – CBI

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain needs more nuclear power plants, electric vehicle charging sites and carbon capture and storage projects to meet its new climate target, the Confederation of British Industry said on Friday.

The comments from Britain’s major business lobby come a day after the country became the first G7 member to enshrine in law a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Firms want to see a whole host of stable, long-term policies enacted – from building new nuclear power stations to scaling-up carbon capture and storage… that send markets a robust signal,” Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI’s chief economist said.

The CBI has written to Britain’s business and energy secretary Greg Clark calling on the government to include such policies in an energy white paper expected later this year.

Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May announced the new emissions target earlier this month, saying the country needed to move faster to combat climate change.

The UK’s original target was to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. The new target is more in line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement which calls on countries to reduce carbon emissions to try to limit the global temperature rise as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.

Britain in 2016 signed a deal with France’s EDF and China’s CGN to build the 18 billion pound ($23 billion) Hinkley C plant, Britain’s first new nuclear plant in decades.

The deal was criticised by organisations such as Britain’s National Audit Office for being too expensive and two other proposed projects, Toshiba’s NuGen and Hitachi’s Horizon, have since failed due to their inability to secure funding.

Britain’s climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), said Britain would need to ramp up its renewable electricity generation such as wind and solar to meet the net zero target.

But the CCC also said it was likely that renewables would need to be complemented by low-carbon power options such as nuclear power and carbon capture and storage at gas or biomass power plants.

All but one of Britain’s current nuclear fleet, which provide around 20 percent of the country’s electricity, are due to close by 2030.

(Reporting By Susanna Twidale. Editing by Jane Merriman)