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UK banks on nuclear to escape Russian fuels

LONDON — The U.K. government has pledged to put new nuclear power at the heart of its plan to wean Britain off imported fossil fuels. 

In a fresh energy strategy, ministers pledged to deliver the equivalent of one nuclear reactor each year instead of one a decade, alongside major boosts in renewable energy schemes. 

But oil and gas exploration in the North Sea will expand in the short term, while the government has also indicated a new openness to fracking for shale gas. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was setting out a plan to “scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain.”

But Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said the plan had “failed on the sprint we needed on onshore wind and solar” and would leave households lumbered with rocketing bills. 

The U.K., alongside other nations, is facing a stark cost of living crisis due to international rising fuel prices, exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Britain pledged to phase out Russian-imported oil and coal before the end of 2022, and is expected to do the same for Russian gas. 

The new plan promises to generate 24GW of nuclear power by 2050, including via new tech mini reactors, amounting to about a quarter of U.K. electricity demand. In 2019, nuclear supplied 17 percent of the country’s electricity, according to analysis by the House of Lords. This energy comes from 13 nuclear reactors at six plants.

Johnson’s government is also promising reform of planning rules to increase the speed of offshore wind development, and offer of cheaper fuel bills in areas that allow local onshore wind farms.

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