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Nuclear Generating Capacity

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 June 2015

The Government fully support the expansion of nuclear generation. My hon. Friend might be interested to know that nuclear already supplies 19% of our electricity in the UK, which is broadly equivalent to the amount provided by renewables. It is therefore a key part of our base energy supply, and I am delighted that the industry has plans to develop approximately 16 GW of new nuclear power, across five sites.

I welcome my hon. Friend to her new position. Clearly there is a need to replace the ageing nuclear power stations that we already have in order to create the mixed environment to which she has referred. What plans does she have to accelerate the development of new nuclear power stations so that we have that proper mixed economy?

The Government and EDF are working together to finalise the Hinkley project documentation. EDF anticipates Hinkley Point C beginning production in 2023. I can assure my hon. Friend that we are committed to the next wave of new nuclear projects, and we hope to be able to meet 35% of UK power needs from nuclear by 2028.

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we are looking at all options for the production of new nuclear. As he will know, an arrangement has already been made for Hinkley Point C, and we are looking at the options for further nuclear projects.

Back in 2008, and in their manifesto, the Conservatives promised no nuclear subsidies on any account, yet the European Commission has granted a subsidy to the UK Government of £17.6 billion for Hinkley Point. How is it that we can subsidise nuclear to that extent yet the Government are cutting subsidies to renewable energy sources?

I think I have said a number of times that diverse sources of energy are vital for our energy security. Currently, 36% of our electricity comes from coal, and around 19% is from old nuclear, much of which will shut down in the next decade. It is vital that we look to new nuclear to provide the base energy supply to meet the bulk of our energy security needs. Other technologies are also vital for diverse sources of energy. That is the approach we are taking.