Nuclear Information Centre.

Energy Transfer.

(October 2022)

In the light of the current global energy crisis I wrote to my local MP to with the suggestion that our current fleet of nuclear submarines could be plugged into the National Grid to provide low cost or even free power, given they are already paid for out of the Ministry of Defence budget. To some extent, this was a knowingly tongue in cheek idea but it also raises serious questions about about distribution of resources and political decision making at government level not to mention a considerably more tangible benefit of our military nuclear capabilities.

Dear Nic

Thank you for contacting me regarding the use of the UKs nuclear submarines, and your suggestion of using them to help power the National Grid. I appreciate you getting in touch with me about this idea.

Royal Navy submarines’ role is to defend British and international waters. Even if their nuclear reactors could make a meaningful impact to UK energy supply (and in fact they couldn’t) they can’t sensibly be taken off task. To do so would leave national security dangerously exposed.

You mention public benefit to our military capabilities – I suspect somewhat sceptically! As well as keeping our country safe, the UK’s defence budget creates and sustains 390,000 UK jobs, including through nearly £20 billion of investment in UK industries every year. Indeed, one in every 130 UK jobs are created by our defence budget, most of which are high-paying, skilled jobs with an average salary of £45,000. The UK's record on defence has also built a thriving export industry, which delivers an average of £3.75bn worth of equipment around the world, helping to keep our allies safe. I am encouraged that the UK continues to have competitive, innovative and world-class defence and security industries, ensured by the Defence and Security Industry Strategy launched last year.

I look forward to a world without weapons. But the grim reality is that threats continue to exist. If the UK, with its core beliefs in human rights and the rule of law, vacates the field it simply leaves a vacuum for less scrupulous actors to fill.

Turning to the energy supply situation, the Government plans to deploy low carbon generation by 2035, including renewables, nuclear and new options such as hydrogen, and accelerating carbon capture technology to provide flexible gas power, using unabated gas only when needed for security of supply. This commitment to decarbonise the power sector by 2035, fifteen years earlier than originally announced, ensures electricity will be generated in the UK, for the UK.

Furthermore, the Government's programmes support the production and use of renewable energy infrastructure. The Energy Security Strategy sets out ambitions plans for how Britain will accelerate the deployment of wind, nuclear, solar and hydrogen power, while supporting the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term. Such moves will be central to weaning Britain off expensive fossil fuels and will boost our long-term energy independence, security and prosperity.

The Government is keen to meet a proportion of its ambitious target to produce up to 50GW from offshore wind by 2030 – more than enough to power every home in the UK – through floating installations, a brand-new technology whereby wind farms are built in deeper sea waters. Combined with support for UK manufacturers in government-backed renewables projects, these measures will help the industry to reach its target of 60 per cent of offshore wind farm production being generated at home.

A major review into Britain’s electricity market design is underway which seeks to radically enhance energy security and cut costs of electricity in the long term through the Review of Electricity Markets Arrangements. Proposals out for initial consultation include exploring changes to the wholesale electricity market that would stop volatile gas prices setting the price of electricity produced by much cheaper renewables. This consultation is exploring ways of updating this pricing system to further reflect the rise in cheaper renewable electricity - something that could have a direct impact on reducing energy costs, ensuring consumers reap the full benefits of the UK’s world-leading and abundant supply of cheaper, cleaner energy. To take part in this, please go to:

While the transition is ongoing, we will need to increase the production of domestic oil and gas in the nearer term. That recognises the importance of these fuels to our energy security, and that producing gas in the UK has a lower carbon footprint than imports from abroad. Scaling up cheap renewables and new nuclear, while maximising local production, is the best and only way to ensure our energy independence over the coming years.

There is an urgent need to safeguard and boost domestically produced energy and as such, the Government is launching the UK's new public body to oversee our energy network. The new Future System Operator will boost security and resilience of UK energy supplies and support transition to net zero emissions. The body will be launched once the Energy Security Bill is passed and further discussion has taken place with key parties.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Best wishes,


Alex Chalk KC MP

Member of Parliament for Cheltenham

When I wrote my original email back in October 2022, Alex Chalk was just a couple of weeks or so into his new job as the Minister of State for Defence Procurement which may partly explain his unexpectedly swift response.

Note: Due to the extreme short-termism that seems to be a defining feature of the current UK government, as of 21 April 2023, Alex Chalk is now the new Justice Secretary.