The future of nuclear: power stations could make hydrogen, heat homes and decarbonise industry

Nuclear power has provided low-carbon electricity to the UK for over 60 years and today it generates 17% of the country’s electricity. Until mid-2018, 15 nuclear reactors were the country’s largest source of low-carbon energy. Of these, only Sizewell B is planned to remain operating in 12 years’ time. The only new plant under construction is Hinkley Point C, and with a total generating capacity of 3.26 gigawatts, it would provide just 8% of the UK’s current electricity demand.

The Committee on Climate Change advises the UK government on the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Its proposals are strangely silent on nuclear power, occasionally lumping it in with “other low-carbon generation”. It supports a massive increase in renewable energy generation and continued burning of natural gas, using carbon capture and storage technology to mop up the CO₂ emitted. Elsewhere, the plan is to electrify transport, heating and industrial

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