Environmentalists may have to accept ‘taboo’ nuclear energy to decarbonise.
That’s the suggestion from Kirsty Gogan, Co-Founder and Global Director of environmental Non-Governmental Organisation Energy for Humanity (EFH), who spoke as part of the panel at Energy Live Expo last week in Westminster.
She noted that although nuclear energy has long been considered a taboo subject within the environmental movement, it will have to play a part alongside all other low carbon options in the journey towards net zero energy supply.
Ms Gogan explained humanity has to figure out how to continue to power civilisation without destroying it and said nuclear would probably be required to complement renewables and support their intermittent generation.
However, she stressed that to do this, the nuclear industry urgently needs to drive down costs, accelerate deployment and start to deliver, suggesting that government needs to show commitment and provide certainty through regulatory frameworks to unlock investment from the private sector.
She acknowledged nuclear is at a stumbling block but said she believes this is a “first-of-a-kind problem”, where the first project of its generation built in a region will inevitably prove expensive and slow, giving Hinkley Point C as an example.
However, she emphasised after the first plant the sector would see a “very steep cost reduction curve”, with the second plant to be built likely to see a 30% cost reduction.
She told ELN: “What we are going to need is everyone pulling in the same direction, so we’re going to need clear market signals from government through market-based instruments and regulation that’s set appropriately to enable investment by industry, we then need industry to invest in that innovation that will be necessary, and yeah we need civil society-based organisations to hold them both to account.”