U.K. Nuclear Push Advances With Bill to Revamp Power Market
U.K. lawmakers began considering legislation today that will revamp electricity markets, part of a 110 billion-pound ($176 billion) effort to spur construction of nuclear, gas and wind power plants. “The Energy Bill will attract investment to bring about a once-in-a-generation transformation of our electricity market, moving from predominantly a fossil-fuel to a diverse low-carbon generation mix,” Energy Secretary Ed Davey told lawmakers in Parliament today to introduce the legislation.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is seeking to boost incentives for utilities to maintain stable power supplies as the nation retires coal- and oil-fired stations responsible for 14 percent of generation capacity by 2015. Electricite de France SA and Hitachi Ltd. are weighing investments in new atomic stations in Britain, one of three western European nations sticking with the technology after last year’s nuclear disaster in Japan.
Publication of the bill caps weeks of negotiations between Cameron’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrat Davey, fueling speculation the proposals were causing a rift within government. Cameron’s party has emphasized concerns about the costs of green measures on businesses and consumers, favoring gas, while Davey wants more incentives for renewable energy. “Two parties who have had their disagreements have come together with an energy policy,” Davey said, adding that the government will support exploitation of shale gas and publish a gas generation strategy with the Dec. 5 autumn statement.
The proposal will also support Britain’s renewal of its nuclear fleet with long-term contracts guaranteeing a price for power, or strike price, also available to renewables such as offshore wind. The bill won’t include the strike prices, which will be set late next year.