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Sunday, April 14, 2024

UK Government Must Keep Investing In Nuclear Power Capacity

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The UK government has today been urged to make sure that the country has at least 10 gigawatts of operational nuclear capacity by the early 2030s as the current fleet of power plants begin to be shut down.

In a new report, the cross-parliamentary group for nuclear power urged ministers to commit to new nuclear projects in order to keep on track to achieve its net zero goal.

Developing such capacity would put the government in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) in its latest carbon budget.

A government spokesperson said that the government was committed to developing new nuclear capacity, pointing to the £385m in investment agreed for new solutions such as small nuclear reactors.

At the moment, the majority of the UK’s nuclear fleet is to start decommissioning by 2024, with just one current reactor still expected to be operational come 2030.

But so far only one new plant, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, is under construction.

MPs urged the government to bring a proposed new plant at Sizewell in Suffolk to a final investment decision by the end of next year.

And it said that ministers should commit to at least one more 1 gigawatt size plant by the end of 2024.

Such steps, the paper argued, could create more than 90,000 jobs in the UK and save more than 30 million tonnes of emission per year by 2035.

But first, it added, ministers must agree to a new financing model for nuclear plants due to concerns over the swelling cost of Hinkley Point C.

One model, the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) system, would see consumers pay for the construction upfront through their bills.

The government has consulted on the issue, but is yet to reach a final decision.

Virginia Crosbie MP, vice-chair of the APPG, said that projects such as Wylfa Newydd in her constituency of Ynys Môn in north Wales were prime sites for investment if such a model could be agreed.

“Should the Government back a new financing model and take this Roadmap forward, we can begin building the new stations we need. With most of our fleet retiring in three years it is vital that we move forward with sites like Wylfa Newydd”, she said.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “Only nuclear can replace nuclear. With urgent action from the Government, the industry is ready, willing and able to provide firm power capacity, through large and small reactors designs, to cut emissions and create good jobs across this country.

“Nuclear technologies alone can produce always-on, low-carbon power, and options for clean heat and hydrogen going forward. With most of our fleet retiring, we need urgent investment in large and small scale nuclear projects to realise the promise of a net zero future.”

A BEIS spokesperson said: “New nuclear will play a crucial part in this government’s plans to achieve a secure, low-carbon, affordable energy future.

“We are committed to the future of new nuclear energy, as illustrated by the construction of Hinkley Point C; our plans to reach a final investment decision on at least one large-scale nuclear power station by the end of this Parliament, and our pledge to fund new nuclear technology, such as small and advanced modular reactors.”






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