British business leaders are very interested in new nuclear power generation according to a poll that the Institute of Directors conducted on its members. The Institute of Directors is an advocacy organization for business leaders in Britain. The survey of 1,117 members indicates that 84 percent support building new nuclear plants in Britain and believe that nuclear power should account for approximately 30 percent of Britain’s electricity supply.
The results are of interest for investors as they show that participants’ level of support for nuclear power is much the same as it was during a similar pre-Fukushima poll conducted in February 2010. Nuclear power currently supplies the UK with only about 18 percent of its electricity.
A warming trend
Climate change concerns have led British politicians to implement a plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. This extremely ambitious target appears virtually impossible unless the electricity sector is decarbonized by 2030, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). CO2 reductions lend additional support for the nuclear industry as a viable alternative for industrial base-load power in Britain as intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar are not likely to be suitable for the large-scale manufacturing demands for electricity.
An annual survey of the British public found that 63 percent of the 4,000 participants support nuclear power as part of the country’s energy balance, up from 61 percent last year. The proportion that feels nuclear power should not play a role fell to 11 percent, down from 15 percent last year.
Public support for wind farms has been declining over the past five years, as indicated by the results of the survey. The present level of support for onshore wind farms is approximately 57 percent, down from 64 percent last year, while offshore wind farm support is at 68 percent, down from 74 percent last year.
New nuclear power delivers economic prosperity
EDF Energy recently released a report that highlights how Britain’s economy could benefit from its plans for new nuclear power plants. The report showcases the power generation deficit that could result from a lack of public and private investment in power plants and infrastructure, and the expected decommissioning of all but one of the country’s current operating nuclear power facilities by 2023.
The report shows that at less than 0.2 percent of GDP, the nuclear industry is only a small part of Britain’s economy; however, it still employs around 24,000 people directly, with contracted jobs representing an additional 20,000.
If nuclear capacity retains its present marketshare or climbs by the government’s vision of 18 gigawatts over 15 years, there will be a range of potential impacts and a “multiplier effect” for the wider economy. The strongest support level will create a net benefit of $7.8 billion per year for the British economy.
The report and survey results are part of the basic framework that EDF will use to make its final investment decision on plans to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The company is also planning a new station at Sizewell in Suffolk.
Securities Disclosure: I, Dave Brown, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.