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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Key points: Energy statement
Here are the key points from Trade Secretary Alistair Darling's statement on the future of nuclear power:

  • Mr Darling said the government had reached a preliminary view that it would be in the public interest to allow energy companies to invest in nuclear power.

  • He said the government would consult further, in a process which will run until October, before making the final decision.

  • He said the government wanted low-carbon sources of energy and would do everything it could to encourage renewables. But Mr Darling added they alone would not be enough to minimise the "cost and risks".

  • The government would consult on the "significant role" new nuclear power stations could play in cutting emissions and diversifying power supplies.

  • Mr Darling said it would be for the private sector to initiate, fund, and construct and operate new nuclear plants. There were also important issues to consider, including waste.

  • The amount of electricity from renewable energy will triple to 15% by the year 2015, he told MPs as he published the Energy White Paper.

  • Mr Darling said a decision was required this year because new nuclear stations took a long time to build.

  • New electricity meters will come with a real-time displays showing energy use from 2008 and there will be a short term offer of free displays from energy suppliers for households to 2010.

  • The government says it expects everyone to have a smart meter within 10 years.

  • A mandatory carbon trading scheme for large organisations such as banks, supermarkets and central government departments. The new Carbon Reduction Commitment "will be a cost-effective scheme that will save over a million tonnes of carbon per year by 2020".

  • More support for wind, wave, tidal and other emerging technologies.

    Legislation to allow storage of natural gas under the seabed and the "unloading of liquefied natural gas at sea.

  • Mr Darling said the government was in talks with a "half a dozen" companies about Carbon Capture and Storage technology. He said it would "take time" to set up a CCS system but Britain was at the "forefront" of developing such technology.

  • White Paper gives more details on competition to build the first CCS plant to be up and running by 2014.

  • 20m for public procurement of low carbon vehicles and extra 235m for green transport research.

  • He said he had changed his mind on nuclear power, saying "I used to be sceptical" but had been persuaded by the need to cut carbon emissions as "nuclear is low carbon". It was also needed as Britain was running out of oil and gas, he said.

  • He said he was reluctant to say "let's abandon nuclear" because Carbon Capture and Storage "may never work" or be available.

  • He said tidal power was "in its infancy" but the government wanted to encourage its development.

  • He said there had not been enough research done on the benefits of reducing carbon emissions using tidal power, with all the emphasis placed on the negative impact on the immediate environment on the River Severn and other areas where wave power could be harnessed.

  • He said "there is a lot coal still available to me mined" in the UK but he could not force energy suppliers to buy it instead of imported coal.

  • He said he wanted to "encourage" the extraction of UK coal where it was economically and environmentally viable.





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