Britain announced plans Tuesday to finance a new generation of nuclear power plants and renewable energy facilities, in a move that illustrates the differences in energy policies among European Union countries as the bloc grapples with the challenge of reconciling economic and environmental objectives.
The 27-member European Union sets climate change targets and coordinates efforts to reduce energy dependency, but decisions on energy sources remain with national governments.
Britain’s proposals, announced in draft legislation by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, appear to be calculated to sidestep European Union restrictions on government aid that might prevent direct subsidies for the construction of nuclear power plants. Instead, they would guarantee prices for low-carbon electricity and pay producers for backup supplies when renewable sources like wind power fail to meet demand.
Industry reaction was far from euphoric. In a statement, Volker Beckers, chief executive of Npower, RWE’s British operation, said the required investment would amount to around £8,000, about $12,600, for every household in Britain.
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