The UK Government’s Nuclear Power Strategy Lacks Detail, Says MPs’ Committee
The UK government’s plan to ramp up nuclear power in the country is more of a “wish list” than a detailed strategy, according to a report by MPs on parliament’s science committee. The report raises questions about the government’s target of achieving 24 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2050, the same year it aims to achieve net-zero emissions. While the report supports the target, it criticizes the lack of detail in the government’s energy security plan, which was published in March.
The MPs argue that the current plans do not provide the comprehensive and specific strategy needed to achieve the government’s aspirations. Committee chair Greg Clark highlights that the 24-gigawatt target is almost double the highest level of nuclear generation the UK has ever attained. He emphasizes the importance of translating these high-level aspirations into a comprehensive and detailed nuclear strategic plan, developed in partnership with the nuclear industry and with long-term cross-party political commitment.
The report also raises concerns about Great British Nuclear (GBN), a body involved in developing smaller-scale nuclear technology projects. While Energy Secretary Grant Shapps has praised GBN’s role in the UK’s nuclear energy “renaissance,” the report points out ambiguity over GBN’s future remit beyond running a small modular reactor competition. The science committee calls for a more comprehensive statement of GBN’s remit, operational model, budget, and its intended role with respect to ministers and government departments.
The report also addresses concerns about the financing of large nuclear projects, such as the Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk. Campaigners against the project welcome the call for more clarity on project financing and the need for robust cost estimates. The Stop Sizewell C group supports the committee’s request for the government to publish details on the cost and value of the project, as they believe it will expose the project’s flaws.
Responding to the report’s concerns, a spokesperson from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero states that a nuclear roadmap will be published, and alternative routes to market will be consulted on by the end of the year. The spokesperson emphasizes the vital role of nuclear power in reaching net-zero emissions and boosting energy security.
Professor Adrian Bull from the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester supports the MPs’ recommendation for a nuclear strategic review. He believes that a clear plan is necessary to provide direction to Great British Nuclear and other bodies involved in achieving the 2050 target. Without a comprehensive plan, the UK is likely to fail in its ambitions.
Overall, the report highlights the need for a more detailed and comprehensive strategy to achieve the UK government’s nuclear power targets. Collaboration with the nuclear industry and clear direction are essential for success.