Plans for a clean economic recovery and the goal of Net Zero by 2050 need commitment to new nuclear power stations, according to a summary of the sector’s future potential published today by the Nuclear Industry Association.
Ahead of the Climate Change Committee’s annual progress update due this week, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has released “Forty by ’50: The Nuclear Roadmap,” an assessment produced for the Government/Industry body, the Nuclear Industry Council.
The NIC-endorsed report says that, in addition to helping meet long term goals, prompt decisions on a new nuclear power programme could unlock mega-projects delivering immediate benefits to help tackle the impact of COVID-19.
According to the report, an ambitious programme—based on existing and new technologies—could provide up to 40% of clean power by 2050 and drive deeper decarbonisation through the creation of hydrogen and other clean fuels, along with district heating.
It could eventually bring as many as 300,000 jobs and £33 billion of added annual economic value.
Nuclear currently contributes 40 percent of our annual clean electricity, but demand is expected to quadruple from the replacement of fossil fuels and a boom in the electric vehicles and heating sectors.
Last week, the International Energy Agency issued plans urging policy makers to focus on sustainable recovery. At the same time, detailed analysis, based on peer-reviewed energy models, released by the independent Energy Systems Catapult called for a programme of affordable new nuclear power stations to help power Net Zero.
Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex, said nuclear’s potential was vast, and costs were coming down, but concerted action was needed now to avoid missing out:
“Net Zero needs nuclear, and the sector is developing fast. The next large-scale projects are now deliverable much more cheaply by building on repeat and tried and tested designs, capturing learnings from our new build programme, and making important changes to the way projects are financed.”
“We’re confident the price of nuclear power will fall from the £92.50 per Megawatt Hour for the first plant, closer to £60/MWh for the next wave of power stations reducing to around £40/MWh for further reactors.
“Greenlighting new projects already in the pipeline would trigger a ramp-up in investment and job creation in parts of the UK facing the biggest economic challenges and clear the way for long term decarbonisation through the hydrogen economy, helping establish the UK nuclear sector as global leader in the field.
“Commitment to the roll-out of smaller and advanced reactors would build on that momentum. Conversely, if we do nothing, we are effectively sitting on a winning hand for a greener future.
“There is no shortage of projects and designs coming forward which means, as a country, we can avoid over-reliance on any one technology, but we must take a programme-based approach which capitalises on common ground, for example, in the supply chain and skills development and in our regulatory approach.
“We have the potential to treble our nuclear electricity generating capacity and add heat and hydrogen specific plants over and above that. To get to Net Zero we need ambition, commitment and planning. It must be more than a drip drip of unconnected projects.”
The Forty by ’50 Nuclear Roadmap report sets out six important steps to be taken in 2020 to turn aspiration into reality. It says:
- The nuclear industry must continue to drive down costs of new build projects (30% by 2030) and establish delivery excellence.
- The Government should articulate a clear, long-term commitment to new nuclear power.
- Progress must also be made on an appropriate funding model for nuclear new build to stimulate investment in new capacity and reduce the cost of capital.
- A National Policy Statement and ‘facilitative’ programme including siting and licensing proposals should be developed for small reactors.
- The 2030 targets of the Nuclear Sector Deal (part of the Government’s industrial strategy) should be maintained, including cost reduction targets for new build and decommissioning, a 40% female workforce, and £2bn of domestic and international contracts for the UK supply chain.
- Industry and Government should agree a framework and commitments, focused on cross-sector collaboration outside traditional electricity production including: the production of medical isotopes, hydrogen, and synthetic fuels for transport, along with heat applications including district heating and agriculture and storage technologies.
“Ours is a fantastic, inspiring industry that could make a game-changing difference to the biggest challenges we face as a country and a planet, and create exciting long term careers for current and future generations. Now is the time to take action.”
Source: NIA UK