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UK delays energy policy paper, leaving questions on green goal


The U.K. government is delaying publication of a policy document outlining its latest thinking about energy, leaving industry uncertain about how ministers will shape markets to meet their green goals.

The energy white paper is unlikely to be published until after the Treasury’s spending review on Nov. 25, according to two government officials who asked not to be named because work on the plan is continuing. It had been expected in the spring, and then for weeks its release was imminent.

The document draws in thinking from across government and is meant to set a direction for how the U.K. will meet its target to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It could include financing plans for technologies such as nuclear, hydrogen and carbon capture that are key to reducing pollution but too expensive to work without subsidy. Companies from Electricite de France SA to Rolls-Royce Plc need details before they can invest.

The delay is because the policies in the document require long-term spending commitments. The government spending review has been scaled back from a three-year plan to just a one-year program due to uncertainty over the longer term impact of the pandemic on the economy.

Specifically, it’s expected to include details on nuclear power. For years, the official government policy has been that the U.K. wants to replace a generation of nuclear plants that are finishing their life in service this decade. Only one, the Hinkley Point C project run by EDF in Somerset, is currently under construction. Developers are waiting for details on how the government will fund more projects.

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