What’s next for nuclear in 2016?
The Nuclear Industry Association sets out the challenges for the UK’s civil nuclear industry in 2016.
It seemed nuclear was never far away from the headlines in 2015, and 2016 promises to be more of the same. 2015 was a pivotal year for the industry with continued progress on nuclear new build and, importantly a commitment in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) for the research and development of new nuclear technology. As we enter 2016, all the indications are that civil nuclear power will remain the Government’s priority and momentum will be maintained.
With regard to new build, all three developers are moving forward in their projects. EDF Energy is close to a Final Investment Decision for Hinkley Point C following the Strategic Investment Agreement signed in October 2015. This will be the green light for the project, allowing Hinkley Point C in Somerset to jump forward into its construction phase, providing 25,000 jobs to the UK and delivering significant contracts to local and national companies. Meanwhile the other two programmes, Horizon Nuclear Power and NuGeneration, are progressing rapidly through milestones that will ultimately lead to their own final investment decisions.
Following the Chancellor’s CSR announcement of “a major commitment to small modular reactors” (SMRs) we hope this year to see Government develop its policy on the much anticipated UK SMR programme. SMRs have gained a lot of political support, from the backbenches to the Cabinet Office, not only as a technology to complement the large generation nuclear new build programme, but as an important additional tool in the fight against climate change.
Another area where industry hopes to see a Government decision is the reuse of the 140 tonne plutonium stockpile. Reuse would see this turned from a potential liability, into an economic asset, providing a further low carbon energy source for decades. We urge the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Department for Energy and Climate Change to come forward this year with a plan to select a technology.
As new decisions are made to increase the UK’s low carbon generating capability, 2016 also looks to see further headway made at the other end of the life-cycle. The CSR highlighted the importance of decommissioning, especially the importance of continuing to clean up high hazard legacy waste. In 2015, the NDA saw key milestones met and we expect to see similar achievements made throughout 2016 to ensure this important programme continues to make significant progress.
With the Government’s strong commitment to nuclear power, robust support from UK industry, and progress on new build and innovation, 2016 will see the UK’s civil nuclear industry positioning itself once again as one of the world’s leading top table nuclear nations.