Mon, 15 April 2024

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By Earl Russell
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A brighter, better future: the promise of nuclear energy

Credit: Adobe

3 min read

Against the backdrop of a global energy crisis and the increasingly urgent need to address climate change, Virginia Crosbie MP, Vice-Chair and Secretary of the Nuclear Energy APPG, explores the benefits of nuclear.

Net-zero needs nuclear. Why? We want clean, abundant, reliable energy for a sustainable future, and we want good jobs to go with it. Nuclear delivers all of those.

The facts are compelling. According to the United Nations, nuclear uses the least carbon and the least land across its whole lifecycle, from mining through decommissioning, of any electricity source. It also has the least impact on ecosystems of any electricity source. The two critical things we need to do to fight climate change are to cut our carbon footprint as far as we can and to preserve biodiversity across the natural environment, and nuclear is the best way to achieve both. Right now, the UK’s nuclear power stations generate enough electricity for about 10m homes from just over half a square mile. Hinkley Point C will power 6m homes from a quarter of a square mile. No other technology packs a punch quite like that, and we will need that punch if we want to save our planet and to save our countryside.

We should also recognise that nuclear makes a unique contribution to our electricity system. It is the only technology that can produce energy reliably, 24/7, at all times and in all conditions. We need that baseload power, or we will remain dependent on gas imported from volatile global markets, or face ruinous bills for managing a broken grid.

The benefits of nuclear, however, are wider than the technical aspects of energy system design. They are about people. Go to any nuclear power station in this country, and you will see that nuclear provides what people want from a net-zero future: stable, secure, skilled, well-paid jobs on which they can build a life and provide for their families.

You can look at the facts: the nation’s 65,000 nuclear workers are twice as productive as the national average. Wages at power stations are two or even three times the local rates, and the jobs are concentrated particularly in coastal communities where steady, quality industrial employment is hard to find.

Go to any nuclear power station in this country, and you will see that nuclear provides what people want from a net-zero future

You can also ask the people themselves: go to any community where the nuclear power station has closed, and you will find they want nuclear back. That is what my constituents across Ynys Môn tell me: for 50 years we had a nuclear station under construction or in operation. It provided jobs, investment, and even cheap power to help sustain more jobs at the aluminium smelter nearby. We want that back. We want the jobs that let young people stay where they grew up. We want the investment to build up community infrastructure and facilities. We want the clean, cheap energy to help attract new businesses and new innovation. We know, and places all over this country know, that nuclear can help them get it.

My message is this: net-zero needs nuclear because it is clean, reliable, and abundant. Our people need nuclear because it will give them hope for a new, net-zero world.

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Read the most recent article written by Virginia Crosbie MP - Let’s power up Britain with new nuclear