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Powering up Britain from Britain, for Britain: Nuclear as a force for net-zero and levelling-up

Minister for Nuclear Andrew Bowie tells attendees at the Nuclear Industry Association Reception at Conservative Party Conference he thinks he has the best job in Government

Nuclear Industry Association

5 min read Partner content

The evening after Governments landmark announcements on the first stage of the process for selection for small modular reactor, the Nuclear Industry Association hosted companies from across the sector including Rolls-Royce, Westinghouse, EDF, GE Hitachi and Holtec at a drinks reception at the Conservative Party Conference.

The news was a reminder that advanced modular technologies are incredibly close to entering the market, and that the process to market for new innovations is critical for the long-term health of the industry.

In his speech, Tom Greatrex, CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association, recommitted the trade association to doing that they need to do to make the most of the opportunities in British nuclear industry. The nuclear renaissance that we need for clean, secure, reliable British energy is vital not just for the next few years, but for generations hence. The nuclear industry is already well placed to be able to support by providing well paid and sustainable jobs around all parts of the country while contributing to the UK’s important of energy security and mixed power goals.

NIA Chief Executive, Tom Greatrex, speaking at the event

In helping to deliver to the government's objective of up to 24 gigawatts of nuclear power on the grid by 2050, Greatrex pointed to the significant economic impact in jobs and growth across the UK large scale and small scale and advanced nuclear reactors can bring. The British nuclear renaissance will upskill our workforce; building a skills-based supply chain fit for the future. The NIA is clear in its commitment to work with the government to help make it happen.

Andrew Bowie, the Minister for Nuclear Energy and Networks, took to the stage and made no secret about the fact he believes and knows that he has the best job in government, bar none, because he gets to represent, challenge, and drive forward the most exciting industry in UK. After visits to Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, France, and Japan, Bowie says the eyes of the world are focused on the great British nuclear revival. The UK is leader the world in nuclear.

In his last event of a busy conference that felt more like an energy conference than a political one, Bowie is clear that clean energy is a driving issue transecting swathes of wider policy. People ask how do we deliver clean energy, how do we become more energy secure and how do we create more highly skilled, high wage jobs of the future? His answer is clear. The answer is investing in nuclear.

Since February, the Government has launched its Great British Nuclear, run the first phase of SMR down selection and confirmed plans to increase funding in the sector and confirmed Hinkley Point C will go ahead – all aimed at meeting the government’s 24 gigawatts by 2050 commitment.

This, Bowie promises, is only the beginning. The actions being taken are now building the foundations of the UKs nuclear future.

He believes there is no net-zero or energy security without nuclear power; investing in nuclear will be the key to cleaner and cheaper fuel. Investing in nuclear is investing in our future.

Some of the most inspirational people Bowie has ever met are young people working in the nuclear sector. In the coming years 50,000 more people will join them in new highly skilled and highly paid jobs around the country. Nuclear investment is good for the sector, good for the climate, and good for the economy.

Carol Tansley, of XEnergy, reiterates that nuclear can deliver safe, secure domestic power supplies, is at the forefront of the battle against climate change, and brings high quality employment and economic growth across the country.

To a room of her sector peers, Tansley calls for industry-wide collaboration to not only build the skills base and supply chain needed to deliver the overall programme detailed in the Nuclear Roadmap due to be published later this year but to also take full advantage of the opportunity to transform British industry through innovation in nuclear technology.

Electricity use drives around a quarter of the UKs greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the remainder comes from transportation and industrial processes.

Nuclear has a role to play in securing the future of Britian’s proud manufacturing and industrial heritage in a net-zero world as new technologies are capable of supplying not only clean electricity, but clean heat and steam. The Governments own industrial decarbonization strategy, Hydrogen strategy and sustainable aviation fuel policies all recognize the central role that nuclear has to play in providing clean heat as the vital source of energy for these fledgling sectors.

The UK is in a lucky position, we have an established skills base and supply chain for improved technologies as they build on established ones already in operation.

In her clearest statement of intent, Tansley makes clear that using the Hartlepool site – with its existing skill base and the demand from local industry on Teesside- for anything except a commercial advanced nuclear project would be to miss a huge opportunity.

XEnergy, she says, is committed to powering up Britain from Britain and for Britain, delivering the energy security that is needed for the country. XEnergy’s proposed UK projects would bring in £20 billion of investment and delivering 3.2 gigawatts of clean electricity and 8 gigawatts of high-temperature heat and steam.

To deliver on nuclear ambitions, it’s been said we need everything, everywhere, all at once but Tansley reality checks that. We need to prioritize. It is her position that the focus of the roadmap later this year must be on those technologies that maximize energy benefits as early as possible. These include generators that are advanced in their readiness and applications. We need technology that can come to market now, not after another decade of research.

The UK was the crucible for the Civil Global nuclear industry, we now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform industry through advanced nuclear technology and export that know-how across the world.

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