The UK's premier industry organization, the CBI, is calling for policy changes to enable the country to build the 16 GWe of new nuclear generating capacity it says it will need by 2030 to meet climate change targets and ensure energy security.
According to the London-based CBI (Confederation of British Industry), the 16 GWe of new nuclear capacity the country will need by 2030 would equate to 10-12 reactors based at 6-10 new nuclear plants built at existing sites. However, without a significant shift in current energy policy, it warned, the private sector would not be able to build the required new infrastructure.
The CBI, which lobbies on behalf of UK business on national and international issues, made its recommendations in a newly released brief entitled Forging a nuclear renaissance: Making new nuclear a reality. In it, the CBI argues that nuclear power is essential for a balanced energy mix, enabling decarbonisation, contributing to energy security and helping to moderate electricity prices. In its analysis it claims that the construction of off-shore wind power capacity would require two to three times the investment that would be needed to achieve the same power and CO2 emissions from nuclear. In a press release launching the document, the organisation called for a change in existing policy "subsidising investments in renewable energy at the expense of other more cost-effective low-carbon sources, including nuclear power."
"With most existing nuclear plants due to close within ten years, we urgently need new reactors to come on stream," said Neil Bentley, CBI director of business environment. "The forthcoming national planning statements should deliver a firm commitment to building new nuclear power by identifying enough sites to accommodate the scale of new reactors that will be needed," he added.
Among the report's key recommendations for the UK government is a call for the planning process to be speeded up, with National Policy Statements for nuclear, and other energy technologies, to be published by November 2009. As part of the same recommendation, the CBI calls for the ongoing Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process, which is assessing the two reactor designs which are likely to be chosen for UK new build, to be completed by mid-2011. It also calls for investigations into the need for new market mechanisms to help incentivise investment in the low-carbon generation market, addressed by a government-industry taskforce. Finally, it calls on the government to make "demonstrable" progress on a long-term nuclear waste management solution, and to support the development of nuclear supply chain capability.
Industry must play its part by maintaining public confidence through an exemplary operating record for the existing nuclear park, engaging with local communities at each stage of the new build process, and working to support the supply chain both through investment and support of nuclear energy and skills initiatives, the CBI said.
The CBI's comments follow recent recommendations to the UK government from the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) that the UK must build up to three new nuclear power plants by 2022 if it is to meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and a government-commissioned study into energy security that concluded the country should aim for a 35-40% nuclear share beyond 2030.
Planning Commission names projects
Two nuclear power plants and two nuclear-related grid connection projects figure in the newly announced list of the first major infrastructure projects for which the UK's new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) expects to receive applications.
EdF's Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C nuclear power plants, plus related connectors, appear in the list which also includes five windfarms and a biomass power plant.
"The projects we are highlighting today raise important issues for the nation and for local communities and we want the public to have confidence that their views will be heard," said IPC chairman Sir Michael Pitt.
The IPC will start taking applications from 1 March 2010 and will decide on applications where a relevant National Policy Statement is in place. Where no statement is in place, the IPC will make its recommendations to the Secretary of State who will be responsible for deciding on the application.
The CBI's Neil Bentley praised the IPC for "hitting the ground running". "Now we want to see the government delivering a strong commitment to building at least six new nuclear plants in next month's National Planning Statements," he said.
National Policy Statements, which set out governmental policy on infrastructure, will be the cornerstone of new planning legislation in the UK which should smooth the path for large projects such as power stations.