LONDON, Nov 27 (Reuters) All of Britain's existing nuclear power plants could be shielded from the worst expected effects of climate change for the next 100 years using technology available now, according to research published today.
Intensifying fears of climate change have boosted the popularity of nuclear power because it emits no carbon dioxide, the gas largely responsible for global warming.
Some fear that rising sea levels, bigger storm surges and increasingly frequent torrential downpours could also threaten Britain's coastal power plants.
But the UK's only nuclear power generator, British Energy, said new research by the UK's Met Office and consultants Halcrow showed even the most vulnerable of its eight nuclear power plants would be safe in the worst case scenarios painted by the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
''They have concluded that all our sites can be sustained over the next 100 years,'' British Energy CEO Bill Coley said in a statement today.
All but one of British Energy's nuclear power plants is scheduled to close by 2020 and the government is expected to say later this year whether it will push for new nuclear plants to be built to replace them.
British Energy wants big European nuclear players that are hoping to build the plants to use its existing sites.
''If the government's decision on nuclear is positive, we believe we are well placed to play a key role at the heart of any new build,'' Coley said.
The two studies it commissioned to study the suitability of its sites for new build concluded that all can be used safely through the full expected lifecycle of the new plants, although coastal defences would need to be improved in half of them.
Bradwell and Hinkley Point in southern England need new coastal defences, while flood protection should be improved at Dungeness and Sizewell.
But the company's two power stations in northern England and two more in Scotland face little risk from the effects of climate change, the reports conclude.
REUTERS RJ RAI2044