Nuclear has provided the UK with electricity for more than 60 years. There are currently eight operating nuclear sites across the country providing 21% of the UK’s electricity. In 2016, nuclear power produced 65TWh of electricity, the highest level for a decade.

Nuclear power provides continuous, baseload electricity which is increasingly important to balance intermittent renewable generation.

More than 64,000 people are directly employed by the nuclear sector; 21% of those employed are women. These jobs are high-skilled and are found in all parts of the UK.

© EDF Energy

Nuclear energy is low carbon:

Nuclear power makes a major contribution to meeting the UK’s energy security and carbon reduction objectives. The power generated by the current nuclear fleet avoids the emission of 49 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – the equivalent of taking around 75% of Britain’s cars off the roads.

Fifth Carbon Budget
The Government has decided to implement the Committee on Climate Change’s advice that the fifth carbon budget, for the five year period 2028 to 2032, should be set at 1,765m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. A draft statutory instrument has been laid and will need to be approved by both Houses of Parliament. This keeps the UK on track to meet its long term climate change objective of reducing carbon emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

 

Current stations to keep running until 2030

Where technically and financially viable to do so, EDF Energy, who run the UK’s current operating stations, will look at life extensions.

Running stations for longer means they can contribute to meeting our energy policy objectives and prolongs the massive local benefits including high quality jobs, supply chain benefits and local infrastructure.

Each station operating in the UK makes a major contribution to the local and national economy through its spending on services and jobs as well as local and national tax. That includes around £40 million a year on wages for employees, in addition to business rates and millions paid in national tax.

*EDF Energy has previously stated that it expects to confirm a 20-year extension for Sizewell B, extending its lifetime to 2055.

Station Reactor Type Date Commissioned Scheduled Decommissioning Output in MW
Hunterston B AGR 1976 2023 965
Hinkley Point B AGR 1973 2023 955
Hartlepool AGR 1983 2024 1180
Heysham 1 AGR 1983 2024 1155
Dungeness B AGR 1983 2028 1050
Heysham 2 AGR 1988 2030 1230
Torness AGR 1988 2030 1185
Sizewell B PWR 1995 2035* 1198

Nuclear safety and regulation

The safety and operation of these sites is regulated by the independent Office for Nuclear Regulation. They would not allow stations to continue operating unless they were absolutely confident they can do so safely.

The ONR regularly reports details on nuclear events which are reported to it. Many of the events are very minor and would pose no problems to the environment or people. Between 2001 and 2015 3,866 events were reported, with more than 99.7% of those events rated as very low significance.

 

© EDF Energy

The public support the nuclear industry

Public support for nuclear energy, alongside other low carbon sources, has been strong for several years. In our annual NIA/YouGov poll, 72% of the public agree that nuclear needs to be part of the energy mix, compared to just 13% who disagree.

Nuclear comes first in the energy sources the public believe is needed to keep the lights on, but industry must not take this support for granted. The case for an expansion of low-carbon nuclear energy remains compelling, but public confidence in the safe operation of nuclear plants and the safety standards of the industry, must be maintained.

To help keep nuclear stations running, there are areas where the NIA would like to see action:

Carbon Floor Price
All electricity generators need to pay for the carbon produced and the Carbon Floor Price is a guaranteed minimum financial penalty for companies which release CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

The NIA believes a fair carbon price is important for decarbonisation and investment in future low carbon technologies and we believe a strong carbon price and access to a market-wide, technology neutral capacity mechanism will be critical factors.

PINC
The EU Commission is required to publish its Nuclear Illustrative Programme (PINC) to indicate targets for nuclear production and the corresponding investments to attain them. It’s most recent PINC was published in April 2016 and concludes that nuclear is expected to remain an important component of the EU’s energy mix in 2050 ‘as a low carbon technology and a significant contributor to security of supply and diversification’ and notes the ‘EU must maintain its technological leadership in the nuclear domain’. The NIA was disappointed there was no proposals included to encourage investment in nuclear new build.

© EDF Energy

There are many ways you can get involved with the NIA and make the most of your membership to meet the right people across the industry

Attend a Business Group meeting

Attending a Business Group meeting will help you meet the right people and grow your business. Find out more about the groups.

Update your details on the Trade Directory

Make sure your details are up to date in the NIA’s unique nuclear Trade Directory, which gives you access to the contact details for key decision makers across the industry.

Get in touch

Email membership@niauk.org to make sure we have the right contact details for people across the business to send a comprehensive round up of industry news.

Promote your business

As a member you can send press releases to promote latest developments in the NIA member news feed, through our social media platforms as well as to Industry Link, our quarterly membership magazine. Send your stories to press@niauk.org.