Press Releases

Net Zero at Risk without Nuclear Power – New Report

24 June 2020

Plans for a clean economic recovery and the goal of Net Zero by 2050 need commitment to new nuclear power stations, according to a summary of the sector’s future potential published today by the Nuclear Industry Association.

Ahead of the Climate Change Committee’s annual progress update due this week, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has released “Forty by ’50: The Nuclear Roadmap,” an assessment produced for the Government/Industry body, the Nuclear Industry Council.

The NIC-endorsed report says that, in addition to helping meet long term goals, prompt decisions on a new nuclear power programme could unlock mega-projects delivering immediate benefits to help tackle the impact of COVID-19.

According to the report, an ambitious programme—based on existing and new technologies—could provide up to 40% of clean power by 2050 and drive deeper decarbonisation through the creation of hydrogen and other clean fuels, along with district heating.

It could eventually bring as many as 300,000 jobs and £33 billion of added annual economic value.

Nuclear currently contributes 40 percent of our annual clean electricity, but demand is expected to quadruple from the replacement of fossil fuels and a boom in the electric vehicles and heating sectors.

Last week, the International Energy Agency issued plans urging policy makers to focus on sustainable recovery. At the same time, detailed analysis, based on peer-reviewed energy models, released by the independent Energy Systems Catapult called for a programme of affordable new nuclear power stations to help power Net Zero.

Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex, said nuclear’s potential was vast, and costs were coming down, but concerted action was needed now to avoid missing out:

“Net Zero needs nuclear, and the sector is developing fast. The next large-scale projects are now deliverable much more cheaply by building on repeat and tried and tested designs, capturing learnings from our new build programme, and making important changes to the way projects are financed.”

“We’re confident the price of nuclear power will fall from the £92.50 per Megawatt Hour for the first plant, closer to £60/MWh for the next wave of power stations reducing to around £40/MWh for further reactors.

“Greenlighting new projects already in the pipeline would trigger a ramp-up in investment and job creation in parts of the UK facing the biggest economic challenges and clear the way for long term decarbonisation through the hydrogen economy, helping establish the UK nuclear sector as global leader in the field.

“Commitment to the roll-out of smaller and advanced reactors would build on that momentum. Conversely, if we do nothing, we are effectively sitting on a winning hand for a greener future.

“There is no shortage of projects and designs coming forward which means, as a country, we can avoid over-reliance on any one technology, but we must take a programme-based approach which capitalises on common ground, for example, in the supply chain and skills development and in our regulatory approach.

“We have the potential to treble our nuclear electricity generating capacity and add heat and hydrogen specific plants over and above that. To get to Net Zero we need ambition, commitment and planning. It must be more than a drip drip of unconnected projects.”

The Forty by ’50 Nuclear Roadmap report sets out six important steps to be taken in 2020 to turn aspiration into reality. It says:

  1. The nuclear industry must continue to drive down costs of new build projects (30% by 2030) and establish delivery excellence.
  2. The Government should articulate a clear, long-term commitment to new nuclear power.
  3. Progress must also be made on an appropriate funding model for nuclear new build to stimulate investment in new capacity and reduce the cost of capital.
  4. A National Policy Statement and ‘facilitative’ programme including siting and licensing proposals should be developed for small reactors.
  5. The 2030 targets of the Nuclear Sector Deal (part of the Government’s industrial strategy) should be maintained, including cost reduction targets for new build and decommissioning, a 40% female workforce, and £2bn of domestic and international contracts for the UK supply chain.
  6. Industry and Government should agree a framework and commitments, focused on cross-sector collaboration outside traditional electricity production including: the production of medical isotopes, hydrogen, and synthetic fuels for transport, along with heat applications including district heating and agriculture and storage technologies.

Greatrex said:

“Ours is a fantastic, inspiring industry that could make a game-changing difference to the biggest challenges we face as a country and a planet, and create exciting long term careers for current and future generations. Now is the time to take action.”


Read Forty by ’50: The Nuclear Roadmap, report here
For more information on nuclear: #RediscoverNuclear here
Follow the NIA on Twitter@NIAUK and LinkedIn

For further information, please contact:
Hartley Butler George
Head of Communications, Nuclear Industry Association
44 (0)7803 696786

Ieuan Williams
Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Nuclear Industry Association
44 (0)7894 595717

Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary of Unite, said:

“We must look to the evolving shape of the UK economy in a post-Covid-19 world, and to where we are going to create the necessary jobs and apprenticeships to kick-start an economic revival.

“Comprehensive investment in ‘new’ nuclear will pave the way to such a future and also provide the low-carbon energy that people are demanding as we tackle the adverse impacts that we can witness already from climate change.

“We back the NIA’s six-point blueprint for a sustainable and safe nuclear future and urge ministers to articulate their long-term commitment to a new era for nuclear power where it plays a vital role in the energy ‘mix’ – without this commitment, it is difficult to see how the UK can meet its ‘net zero’ pledge by 2050.”

Craig Dobson, Lay-Chair of Trade Unionists for Safe Nuclear Energy, said:

“Every day spent waiting for a coherent Government plan to reach net zero is one where we lose credibility as a country. We need a plan now, in which a combination of nuclear and renewables is central, and to not let this globally important issue fall by the wayside due to dither and delay!

“We call on Government to take this opportunity to seize the moment, stop wasting a more time and put in place the crucial next steps to make the UK’s 2050 net-zero vision become a reality.”

Zheng Dongshan, Chief Executive of CGN UK, said:

“CGN strongly supports the role that new nuclear is already playing in the UK, and in particular the Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and Bradwell B projects, a programme of new nuclear power stations that was agreed between the UK and China in 2016.

“Through these three projects we have already invested more than £3.6 billion in the UK economy, helping to create many thousands of jobs, and we also have more than 100 engineers and technical experts working on Hinkley Point C, bringing their experience of building the first two operational EPR reactors in the world. We are proud that our involvement in new nuclear supports the UK economy and the Government’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

Sue Ferns, Senior Deputy General Secretary of Prospect, said:

“New nuclear is an essential part of our future energy mix. With costs coming down, as illustrated by this report, there is no excuse for government not to make a commitment to bringing projects forward.

“The technology is proven, the costs are manageable, and we need the low carbon generation to meet our Net Zero carbon obligations – let’s get on with it.”

Duncan Hawthorne, Chief Executive of Horizon Nuclear Power, said:

“This report makes clear not only the key environmental and economic role that nuclear has to play but also the steps that must be taken to ensure the sector can deliver for its communities, its workforce, and the country.

“A sustainable recovery needs nuclear at its heart to help us hit our Net Zero challenge in a way that spreads the benefits across the whole of the UK. Wylfa Newydd has a great site, a tried and tested technology, strong local and national support, and huge progress already made. We continue to work hard to ensure it is a part of the exciting vision set out in the Roadmap.”

Dr John Idris Jones, Chair of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, said:

“I welcome the ‘Forty by 50: The Nuclear Roadmap’ report and the clarity it provides regarding the steps that the UK Government and the industry needs to take to allow the UK to be able to meet its Net Zero emissions target by 2050.

“These steps need to be taken urgently. They will be of significant help to the development of the wider economy in North Wales and the wider North West Nuclear Arc, by facilitating developments such as Horizon’s Wylfa Newydd and small reactor development and the production of medical isotopes at Trawsfynydd. These in turn can support wider opportunities to decarbonise heat and transport by the production of Hydrogen and other clean fuels from such new developments and complement other means of producing low carbon electricity.”

Simone Rossi, Chief Executive Officer of EDF, said:

“Nuclear projects will act as a catalyst for national and regional economic recovery after the Coronavirus crisis. EDF’s Hinkley Point C project in Somerset has already delivered £1.7bilion of investment into the South West, beating its target five years ahead of schedule, and created 450 new jobs since the start of the pandemic across the UK’s regions, including in Yorkshire, Humberside and Warrington. In total, the project has created more than 10,000 highly-skilled jobs and recruited 640 apprentices, boosting the UK’s industrial capacity.

“With 64% of contract values spent with UK firms, the project has established a thriving nuclear supply chain across the country with the ability to export its world-leading expertise internationally. Approving a nuclear pipeline, including Hinkley Point C’s follow-on project, Sizewell C, would unlock thousands more high-quality jobs and investment in towns and regions that have been badly affected by the crisis.”

Ken Skates MS, Minister for Economy, Transport, and North Wales, Welsh Government, said:

“I very much welcome this report. We have been supportive of the nuclear sector in Wales for a number of years and I believe that our projects have a major role to play in tackling climate change and meeting the 2050 net zero carbon emissions target.

“Horizon’s Wylfa Newydd and the small reactor development at Trawsfynydd are two key projects that have the potential to make a significant difference. I urge the UK Government to respond positively to the report and provide clear policy direction in the long expected Energy White Paper on the future role for nuclear and provide detail on appropriate funding mechanisms to enable delivery.”

Andy Storer, CEO of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, said:

“Nuclear needs to be part of the energy mix for Net Zero and, as this report shows, it’s a technology that can maximise the benefits for the UK economy. British companies can lead the development of new technologies such as small and advanced modular reactors and fusion power, using their manufacturing expertise and innovation to reduce the cost of the low-carbon transition while driving economic growth and creating jobs in the North of England and across our industrial heartlands. We really need to push forward now to grasp the opportunity and deliver on our clean energy commitment.”