Publication states that investment of £110bn over the next 40 years is needed to build new plants

Construction firms are set to cash in on the construction of a new wave of nuclear power stations following publication of the coalition government’s White Paper committing the UK to nuclear power.

The White Paper unveiled what energy Minister Chris Huhne called a “Renewables Roadmap” which will shift the UK economy away from what it termed “a high risk, high carbon future” towards creating a mix of electricity sources including gas, new nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage.

The White Paper states that an investment of £110bn is required over the next 40 years to build the equivalent of 20 large power stations and upgrade the grid as around a quarter of the UK’s generating capacity of coal and old nuclear will shut down over the next ten years.

The government had already confirmed it will press ahead with plans outlined by the previous Labour administration to build eight new nuclear power plants within the next 15 years.

The news will be welcomed by contractors Amec, EDF among others in the wake of the German government’s review of its use of nuclear power.

Huhne said: “We have a Herculean task ahead of us. The scale of investment needed in our electricity system in order to keep the lights on is more than twice the rate of the last decade.

“The fact is that the current electricity market is not be able to meet that challenge. Without action, there is a risk of uncomfortably low capacity margins from around the end of the decade and a far higher chance of costly blackouts.”

He added: “This package will keep the lights on and bills down. It will insure us against shocks from volatile parts of the world like Libya, and end the dithering about our need for new plant.”