Huhne sees nuclear, renewables in energy mix

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Nuclear and renewables both have a part to play in meeting Britain’s future energy needs, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said on Tuesday, adding it was not a choice between one or the other.

Huhne’s statement is in line with the coalition agreement but he made it to delegates at the Liberal Democrat conference, challenging sceptics in his own party who oppose nuclear power.

“A deal is a deal, and I will deliver. I’m fed up with the stand-off between renewable and nuclear which means we have neither -- we will have both. We will have low carbon energy, and security of supply,” Huhne said.

Huhne stressed that there would be no subsidy for new nuclear power stations.

Nuclear power policy is one of the main compromises in the coalition agreement reached between the Conservatives and the smaller Lib Dems after they took power in May.

Lib Dems have agreed to abstain on any vote in parliament on new nuclear construction.

Britain is set to reform its electricity market to encourage energy companies to invest the billions of pounds needed for low-carbon power generation, including nuclear, Huhne told Reuters on Sunday.

Speaking on Tuesday, Huhne pledged that Britain would raise its game on renewables over the next five years, noting that Britain was one of the worst performers in the European Union on the issue, behind everyone apart from Malta and Luxembourg.

“I make you this promise now: by the end of this Parliament, we will be Europe’s fastest improving pupil when it comes to renewables. No more second best,” he said.

Huhne also flagged up plans to prevent waste of energy from buildings and businesses - the so-called “Green Deal.”

“Companies will pay up-front to insulate your home, recovering their spending from the energy savings that will result,” he said.

“The Green Deal could also create a whole new industry that will help offset the drag anchor of the budget squeeze. Not just the 26,000 people working in insulation now, but up to 250,000 jobs in every part of the country.”