Boris Johnson is stepping up his bid to reduce UK dependence on oil and gas imports from Russia by holding a summit with nuclear industry bosses.
As he attempts to cut household fuel bills by increasing nuclear output after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, he is meeting the industry’s leaders to plot “big bets on nuclear power”.
The Downing Street summit comes after the prime minister announced plans for a major expansion of nuclear power in his speech at the Conservatives’ spring conference at the weekend.
“We must take the bold steps necessary to end our dependence on Putin’s oil and gas,” he declared. “And that’s what we are doing. In the immortal phrase, it is time to take back control of our energy supplies.
“After years of short-termism and hand to mouth solutions, we are setting out a British energy security strategy.
“And we will make better use of our own naturally occurring hydrocarbons, rather than import them top dollar from abroad and put the money into Putin’s bank account.”
He added: “We’re going to make some bets on nuclear power and big bets on nuclear power, not just the big projects, but also the small modular reactors.
“And we’re going to take that bull-at-a-gate spirit of the booster rollout and use it to build more offshore wind.”
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According to Number 10, the prime minister and power bosses will discuss “how government and industry can work together to remove barriers and progress future nuclear projects in the UK more quickly and cheaply”.
The Downing Street summit is the latest step in the government’s engagement with industry bosses ahead of the publication of the British Energy Security Strategy later this month, Number 10 claims.
The prime minister argues that nuclear – from small modular reactors to larger power plants – can boost UK energy security and independence as it moves away from Russian hydrocarbons and foreign fossil fuels.
Currently accounting for around 15% of UK electricity generation, nuclear power “provides a safe, clean and reliable energy source” as part of the country’s energy mix, the government claims.
As well as meeting bosses, the prime minister will also meet apprentices in the nuclear industry to hear about how they are developing the skills and expertise needed as part of the UK’s energy transition.
And after the Downing Street summit, Treasury Minister Helen Whately will chair a forum with oil and gas lenders to discuss North Sea investment.
She will meet with technical banks that lend to oil and gas companies operating in the UK and emphasise the government’s commitment to domestic offshore oil and gas production.
Downing Street says that in the coming days the prime minister is also expected to speak to bosses from the wind sector, which he claims is another UK success story in boosting renewable, home-grown energy.
Last week the PM launched his bid to reduce UK dependence on Russian oil and gas with a controversial visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, just days after the Saudis carried out 81 executions.