UK budget set to back carbon capture and nuclear power


U.K. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will pledge a “clean energy reset” next week, earmarking billions of pounds of investment for carbon capture technologies in his spring budget statement, while reaffirming government backing for the British nuclear sector.

The government will invest £20 billion in carbon capture and storage over the next two decades, Hunt will say, arguing that the technology — which involves separating out carbon dioxide produced during industrial processes and storing it underground — will support the country’s transition to a net zero economy.

Hunt will also set out more detail of how the U.K. plans to expand its nuclear sector, through promotion of “small modular reactors,” an emerging technology which ministers hope could deliver cheaper and safer nuclear power to the grid in the future.

On Friday the U.K. signed a new energy cooperation agreement with France centered on the countries’ shared ambition to significantly expand their nuclear sectors in pursuit of net zero goals. The U.K. is also reportedly planning to reclassify nuclear power as “green” in order to allow the sector to qualify for more private investment, following in the footsteps of the EU which includes nuclear power in its so-called “taxonomy” of energy sources that can be considered for green investments.

Hunt said that the transition to cleaner energy would lower household bills in the long run, while improving energy security and boosting economic growth.

“We don’t want to see high bills like this again, [so] it’s time for a clean energy reset,” he said. “That is why we are fully committing to nuclear power in the U.K., backing a new generation of small modular reactors, and investing tens of billions in clean energy through carbon capture.”

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