Accepting nuclear

Tom Greatrex

02 April 2019

Yesterday the legal separation took place of the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) from its parent company, National Grid Group.

Along with this independence came its vision for the future, Zero Carbon Operation 2025.

Much of the coverage on the split and new direction focussed on recent records levels set of both wind and solar generation, leading many to wrongly assume it meant the ESO will be running on 100% renewable energy within 6 years.

No matter how smart or flexible you can make an energy network, it will always need backup, and as the ESO’s Director of Operations confirmed to me, the 2025 target of course includes nuclear as a vital contributor.

Just this morning, alongside others from the energy sector, I was in front of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee looking at the technologies required to meet our clean growth targets. One of my fellow panellists, Dr Robert Gross of Imperial College London stated without nuclear, “It’s very difficult to envisage complete decarbonisation.”

Quite rightly, nuclear is becoming more widely accepted as the bedrock of a future 100% clean electricity mix. The ESO itself categorises nuclear as a zero-carbon generator alongside wind, solar and hydro; precisely the mix of technologies we’ve been talking about for as long as I can remember. However, for me, nuclear shouldn’t have to continue to be the quiet, unmentionable voice at the back of the energy room.

I’m proud to stand up and say nuclear is the part of the solution. This industry has a great future ahead of it, consistently relevant and constantly innovating, and will continue to power our everyday lives for generations to come.