UK and US back nuclear and renewables for greater energy independence

British Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps has committed the country to greater energy independence through nuclear and renewables after a meeting with his US equivalent, the government said.

Mr Shapps met US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in London on Monday and said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has shown the need to hasten the move away from fossil fuel dependence.

They reaffirmed their support for Ukraine, whose citizens have suffered missile attacks on energy infrastructure in the winter, and said they wanted to undermine Mr Putin’s ability to wage war by weaning western countries off Russian oil and gas.

“Secretary Granholm and I stand shoulder to shoulder in our unending support for Ukraine and in ensuring that neither Putin nor any tyrant ever think they can hold the world to ransom through their energy supply,” said Mr Shapps, head of the new Energy Security and Net Zero department.

“The war has shown the UK, the US and countries the world over the need for ever greater energy independence, fuelled by moves away from fossil fuels and towards homegrown sources like renewables and nuclear.

“Today I’m pledging to deliver that energy independence, backed by my ambition for lower wholesale electricity prices in the longer term.”

The two also met green entrepreneurs, the government said, to try to encourage more investment between British and American companies.

“This will also open up opportunities for UK and US companies to work together at the cutting edge of these technologies, while also strengthening the historic ties of co-operation between our two countries,” Mr Shapps said.

The UK took delivery of its first nuclear reactor in more than 30 years at Hinkley Point C, in Somerset.

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The 500-tonne reactor is the first of two to be installed. The plant says it will produce enough electricity to power three million homes.

It was made in France and taken to the site from Avonmouth Docks in Bristol, having come from the same factory as the last reactor for a British power station, at Sizewell B in Suffolk, which became operational in 1995.

“The United States stands alongside the United Kingdom in support of Ukraine against Russia’s brutal war and its weaponisation of energy markets,” Ms Granholm said.

“We are keenly aware that remaining overly reliant on fossil fuels puts our energy security at risk and that the solution lies in diversifying our fuel sources through the deployment of clean energy.

“The Biden-Harris administration has put into place powerful tools, such as the inflation reduction act and the bipartisan infrastructure law, to lower costs and advance new energy technologies.

“And we look forward to continue building on a long history of collaboration around our shared clean energy ambitions that will deliver homegrown security and greater independence.”

Updated: February 28, 2023, 2:24 AM

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