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Increasing the UK’s nuclear power potential

Nuclear power plants
<a href="" rel="nofollow">Nuclear power plants</a> by <a href="" rel="nofollow">Carol M Highsmith</a> is licensed under <a href="" rel="nofollow">CC-CC0 1.0</a>

Nuclear power has been used in the United Kingdom for decades, and it appears that it will continue to grow in the future. Following a successful decade in which it approved the first nuclear power plant in a generation and increased renewables fivefold, the UK government released the British Energy Security Strategy in April 2022. The Strategy included a number of initiatives to expand its nuclear power capabilities, including claims such as dramatically boosting hydrogen production.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on the Strategy,

“We’re embracing the safe, clean, inexpensive new generation of nuclear reactors, restoring the UK to pre-eminence in an area where we once led the world.”

The government would also “massively invest in nuclear electricity,” according to the announcement.

The Strategy expands on the government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, laying out methods to encourage green jobs and speed the UK’s journey to net zero emissions. According to the Plan, the UK is pursuing large-scale nuclear power and wants to improve the future of nuclear by investing more in small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced modular reactors (AMRs). The strategy includes a £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to advance new nuclear, a £210 million investment with Rolls-Royce to develop SMRs, and a £100 million commitment to help the construction of EDF Energy’s Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk. The Advanced Nuclear Fund will contribute up to £385 million to this investment to assist the next generation of nuclear technologies.

With the growth of the nuclear business in the UK, it is critical that appropriate research and testing facilities exist to assist enterprises in the area. The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC), which is owned by the University of Sheffield and is backed by industry leaders and the government, assists UK manufacturers in winning work in the nuclear sector, including new build, operations, and decommissioning, as well as other quality-critical industries. Its amenities and services are available to everyone.

The nuclear scenario in the United Kingdom appears to be brighter than it has been in many years. As a country, we have pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, with the goal of decarbonizing energy generation by 2035. Nuclear power is the only proven low-carbon generating option that can offer steady baseload electricity to offset the inherent fluctuation of wind, solar, and tidal.

A lot of detailed modeling has been made, of potential net zero pathways by international bodies like the International Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Authority, as well as UK bodies like the Climate Change Committee and Energy Systems Catapult, and all show the need for nuclear as part of the energy mix. The UK government has acknowledged this, with a target of 24 GW of nuclear capacity by 2050 declared in April as part of the British Energy Security Strategy.

The Regulated Asset Base (RAB) finance mechanism for nuclear power plants has now been enacted in the United Kingdom. RAB is intended to give a more appealing investment profile for big infrastructure projects by providing a revenue stream during development via a modest levy on consumers, hence lowering project risk for the investor.

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