In recent years, the UK has made great strides in renewable energy generation, thereby reducing its reliance on coal-fired power stations.
The next step for government is to outline plans for decarbonising the entire UK energy sector as part of its commitment to a low-carbon future. The nuclear power industry will therefore be a vital component to achieving this vision. However, government must be bold in its nuclear sector planning, enabling low-carbon electricity generation while simultaneously supporting UK manufacturing, skills and the economy.
This case study re-examines the role of nuclear power in the UK’s energy mix, and proposes a pathway for the technology, if it is to play a key part in delivering secure and affordable, lowcarbon electricity.
These recommendations could all be delivered through a clear nuclear sector plan where the key facilitating actions ensure that we leave Euratom with minimal impact on the industry, delivery of GDF is either confirmed or abandoned and that as a nation we maximise the energy resource made available to use from our plutonium stocks. This
will open up the new ‘Nuclear Pathway’ identified in this case study.
1. The ‘Nuclear Pathway’ should be enabled through commitment to three objectives:
- Replace old nuclear with new nuclear by 2030, and develop a clear target and plan for
future baseload capacity from nuclear.
- Have a fleet of affordable SMRs generating by 2040.
- Develop Generation IV and Fusion plants for beyond 2050.
2. Action needs to be taken to remove three ‘road-blocks’:
- Brexatom needs to be addressed urgently, otherwise the entire UK nuclear industry will
not be able to function.
- Publish a firm timetable and plan for the delivery of the Geological Disposal Facility.
- Take forward firm plans for plutonium disposition, in particular, seriously consider how the PRISM SMR could be used to deliver a number of the objectives described above.
3. The key facilitating actions are:
- Urgently consider ‘Alternative Funding Options’ for nuclear projects, particularly for Wylfa Newydd and Moorside.
- BEIS to continue the development of the ‘SMR roadmap’ started by DECC.
- Ensure that post-Brexatom arrangements continue the support for the development
of the Fusion programme.
- Undertake an independent review of GDA-related design changes, to ensure
that costs are not added unnecessarily.
- Support the development of the Modular Construction Park, planned for the
River Mersey, to develop modular construction skills and processes.
- Make available Generic Design Assessment slots for SMRs and develop the Office for Nuclear Regulation to have the required skills and capacity to undertake the reviews.
- Ensure that the Nuclear Skills Strategic Plan is effectively implemented, and
add nuclear construction skills to the ‘Tier 2 – Shortage Occupations List’.
- Undertake a new Strategic Siting Assessment to identify potential nuclear sites for construction beyond 2025, including sites for SMRs.