24.02.12: A report published today highlights the importance of developing both a clearly defined long-term strategy and a research and development roadmap for nuclear energy in the UK.
Earlier this month, UK Prime Minister David Cameron agreed a deal to strengthen nuclear power links between the UK and France, stating his commitment to developing nuclear ‘as part of a diversified energy mix’, and prompting Caroline Flint MP, Labour’s Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, to recognise its role ‘as part of a more sustainable, balanced and low-carbon future energy mix, to make us less reliant on volatile fossil fuel prices, increase our energy security, and keep prices down for families’.
Considerable effort has been put into opening the way for new nuclear power stations in the UK to replace existing capacity by 2025. However, many energy scenarios indicate that nuclear power may have to play a much greater role by 2050. The report warns that delivering such an expanded fleet is not a matter of simply doing more of the same, but will require a long-term strategic approach focused on ensuring a secure supply of fuel, managing additional waste and maximising opportunities both for the UK supply chain and international collaboration.
The Energy Research Partnership led the development of today’s report, which was produced in close consultation with industry, academia, regulators and other key stakeholders. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Energy Technologies Institute, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the UK National Nuclear Laboratory, it highlights the key issues and analysis that will be needed to inform the strategic decisions on which a research and development roadmap can be based.
The report analyses two possible nuclear new build scenarios – a Replacement Scenario, generating 16 GW of electricity until 2025, and an Expansion Scenario, generating 16 GW until 2025 and then building up to 40 GW in 2050 - and examines the issues and consequences that need to be addressed for both. The authors warn that any delays risk closing off options for future development and missing valuable opportunities for UK industry to capitalise on the global market.
In addition to calling for the roadmap, the report also makes a number of recommendations, including further detailed assessments in order to understand the issues and realise the potential opportunities for UK industry, and the establishment of a co-ordinating body for research and development which should include Government, industry, NNL, NDA, regulators, academia and research funders. Such a body would own, develop and advise Government on a long-term nuclear R&D strategy and roadmap, and underpin the realisation of the commercial opportunities and international collaboration.
Dame Sue Ion, a Member of the Energy Research Partnership and who chaired the Steering Group for the report, comments: ‘The UK has world-class R&D capabilities in key areas across the nuclear fuel cycle, and significant expertise in decommissioning, safety management, regulatory frameworks and advanced manufacturing, so we should be well placed to take early advantage of the growing global market for nuclear power.
‘It is therefore vital that pathways and opportunities are identified and analysed in detail so that we are in a position to make the appropriate supportive investment to keep options open and maximise the long-term value to UK plc. We need a properly developed comprehensive roadmap that highlights the decisions to be made on a number of key areas and how soon these decisions need to be made to avoid foreclosing options, and we hope that the findings we are publishing today will make a valuable contribution to that process.’
Notes to Editors:
To download a full copy of the report, go to: http://www.energyresearchpartnership.org.uk/nucleartechnologyroadmap
To contact the authors, please contact:
Lindsay Wright, Head of Communications, UKERC
020 7594 2669
Charlotte Knight, Communications Officer, UKERC
020 7594 1573
The Energy Research Partnership is a high-level forum bringing together key stakeholders and funders of energy research, development, demonstration and deployment in Government, industry and academia, plus other interested bodies, to identify and work together towards shared goals.
The Partnership has been designed to give strategic direction to UK energy innovation, seeking to influence the development of new technologies and enabling timely, focussed investments to be made. It does this by (i) influencing members in their respective individual roles and capacities and (II) communicating views more widely to other stakeholders and decision makers as appropriate. ERP’s remit covers the whole energy system, including supply (nuclear, fossil fuels, renewables), infrastructure, and the demand side (built environment, energy efficiency, transport).
ERP is co-chaired by Professor David Mackay, Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Nick Winser, Executive Director at National Grid. A small in-house team provides independent and rigorous analysis to underpin ERP’s work.