There is an urgent need to invest in low-carbon infrastructure in the UK as much of the current electricity generation capacity will close by 2030, including a substantial amount of the UK’s nuclear sites.

Two companies are looking at building new nuclear power stations in England and Wales, which are due to be completed in the mid-2020s. We need investment across a range of technologies, including a significant amount of new nuclear.

© EDF Energy

Why new nuclear

The last nuclear power station opened in the UK was Sizewell B in 1995. In the following years, Government policy focused on other energy sources. However in the mid-2000s nuclear new build was put back on the table, and a new pro-nuclear policy was developed.

To encourage investment in all low carbon generation, including nuclear, Electricity Market Reform was implemented, through the Energy Act 2013.

Thorough scrutiny of new technology

Any new nuclear technology which is proposed for use in the UK must undergo a thorough assessment. The first regulatory process is Justifications, where the industry must make clear the case for using nuclear power.

Justification is a legal requirement under EU and UK law and the first in the series of regulatory decisions needed before a nuclear power station can be built. A high-level assessment is undertaken by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to establish whether the economic, social or other benefits of a new nuclear station outweigh the radiological health detriments.

Each of the three technologies proposed for use in the UK have been approved for use by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. View the ABWR Justification briefing paper.

The independent Office for Nuclear Regulation will assess any new reactor, to ensure it meets the UK’s rigorous safety standards, through the Generic Design Assessment. This process can take up to four years and currently the AP1000 and UK ABWR are in the final stage of the assessment. EDF Energy’s EPR technology is the only reactor to have completed the ONR GDA process and was approved in 2012.

© SPX Flow Inc

New nuclear in the UK

EDF Energy will build the UK’s first new nuclear station for a generation at Hinkley Point C, which is due to begin operating in 2025 – adding 3.2GW of electricity to the grid. The company also has plans to build two new reactors in Suffolk at Sizewell C.

Economic benefits

A major nuclear new build programme will lead to substantial industrial and employment benefits – including considerable opportunities for the UK nuclear supply chain and helping UK manufacturing and construction.

New nuclear build will give the UK economy a major boost, with each new project expected to create up to 25,000 employment opportunities.

UK companies will deliver around 64% of the construction value of Hinkley Point C – so far preferred bidders for contracts have been announced worth over £1.3 billion.

These new build projects will help the supply chain across the UK, as companies of all sizes compete for work, improving not only their own capability, but the capability of UK-plc.

The business rates taken from nuclear new build will be kept directly by the local authorities of the region they are in, rather than being sent to central government. This will give a huge boost to the local communities in which they are based.

What is needed from Government to deliver nuclear new build?

With new nuclear in the UK being delivered by private sector investment, the NIA has called on the Government to provide:

Continuity in policy to provide a stable investment climate

Assurances the Levy Control Framework funding cap for the period from 2020-21 will be set to accommodate the Contracts for Difference agreed with government on new projects

Continued availability of the Infrastructure UK Guarantee for nationally significant projects to provide investment stability to new nuclear developers

Support for smaller businesses through the Fit For Nuclear programme which helps SMEs with preparation to bid for nuclear supply chain contracts

Our Essential Guide will help firms understand what they need to do to be ready to bid for contracts.

National Infrastructure Commission

The NIA strongly supports the Government’s decision to set up an independent National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) to consider the UK’s long term infrastructure needs. Large scale projects are often affected by the political life cycle and an independent Commission should help overcome this issue and provide greater certainty for both the public and investors.

© Direct Rail Services

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Being a member of the NIA gives you a voice in Westminster and the media as the NIA works to ensure your business can grow. You can contribute to our consultation responses and policy positions through involvement in our groups.