Parts of Britain are already hitting 2030 carbon targets

The Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by Orsted is seen off the coast of Blackpool, Britain.
The Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by Orsted is seen off the coast of Blackpool, Britain.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Regions of Britain powered by a combination of nuclear and wind are already hitting 2030 climate targets, according to an industry report.

Britain has pledged the deepest cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in the Group of 20 nations to put the country at the vanguard of the fight against climate change. The prime minister's goal to slash pollution by 68 per cent in the four decades through 2030 could put Britain on track to deliver net-zero emissions by the middle of the century.

Southern Scotland, and northeast and northwest England had the cleanest power mix last year, according to the findings from Nuclear Industry Association.

Those regions achieved Britain's 2030 electricity decarbonisation target on more than 85 per cent of days in 2020. Britain, as a whole, hit the 2030 target on just 13 days.

The publication comes at an unsettled time for the nuclear industry in Britain.

Last week developers at the Wylfa site in Wales gave up on finding a partner for the project. This leaves Electricite de France SA as the only realistic prospect for building new capacity. Its Hinkley Point C is facing cost overruns and six months of delays, which will play into negotiations the utility is hammering out with government to develop another project - Sizewell C.

It is widely accepted within the power industry that net zero will be difficult to reach without a solid underpinning of nuclear. The last of Britain's existing units is set to retire in 2035, with four major plants closing in the next three years. The only project set to come online is Hinkley Point C in 2026.

There are further projects waiting in the wings but they would need a show of support from the British government to proceed.

"The time has come to build a new fleet," said Mr Tom Greatrex, chief executive officer of the Nuclear Industry Association.

Gas is the biggest source of both power and carbon emissions, making up 60 per cent of generation at times during the summer months, as coal is completely phased out of the British power mix over the next three or four years, according to the report.

A criticism of nuclear as a partner to renewables is that it is not suited to adjusting its output to run flexibly. This is something the industry will need to address.