Nuclear scores point in U.K. green plan

December 1, 2020, 12:03PMNuclear News

The United Kingdom, the first of the world’s major economies to adopt a legally binding commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, has released a blueprint to help realize that goal—one that includes a substantial role for nuclear energy

The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will mobilize a total of £12 billion (about $16 billion) of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the United Kingdom and spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030, according to the UK government on November 18.

In addition to nuclear, offshore wind, hydrogen production, carbon capture, and vehicle electrification are also earmarked for significant investment in the 38-page document.

The Conservative government dubs the plan “ambitious,” maintaining that £8 billion (about $10.7 billion) of the spending is new, while the opposition Labor party claims that new spending amounts to only half of that—some £4 billion (about $5.3 billion).

The nuclear point: The plan’s third point, “Delivering new and advanced nuclear power,” calls for the investment of £525 million to help develop large- and smaller-scale nuclear plants and to research and develop new advanced modular reactors. “The U.K. was home to the world’s first full-scale civil nuclear power station more than 60 years ago, and this industry now employs around 60,000 people in the U.K.,” the plan states. “We see the ongoing potential of this technology. Whether a large-scale power plant, or next-generation technologies such as small and advanced modular reactors, new nuclear will both produce low-carbon power and create jobs and growth across the U.K. We are pursuing large-scale new nuclear projects, subject to value-for-money. To support this, we will provide development funding.”

The plan also notes that the high-grade heat from advanced modular reactors “could unlock efficient production of hydrogen and synthetic fuels, complementing our investments in carbon capture, utilization and storage, hydrogen, and offshore wind. Our aim is to build a demonstrator by the early 2030s at the latest to prove the potential of this technology and put the U.K. at the cutting edge against international competitors.”

Plan fans: Simone Rossi, chief executive officer of EDF in the United Kingdom, declared the plan to be a “game changer,” saying that his company has “a huge contribution to make across nuclear, wind, solar, storage, hydrogen, electric heating, energy saving, and electric vehicles.” The company’s Hinkley Point C project, he pointed out, “is providing £14 billion of work to the U.K. supply chain,” while the proposed Sizewell C “is ready to create great jobs across the country now.”

Sizewell C’s managing director, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, said, “Sizewell C is the only large-scale nuclear project ready to begin construction. It will deliver the always-on low-carbon power Britain needs. Sizewell C will be a great British project: It will copy the U.K.-adapted design being built at Hinkley Point C, with 70 percent of the value of engineering and construction contracts going to suppliers based in this country, and can be majority owned by British investors. When it gets the go-ahead, it will create thousands of jobs.”

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