UK Industrial Strategy highlights 'vital part' of nuclear power

27 November 2017

The nuclear sector is "integral to increasing productivity and driving growth" in the UK, according to the government's Industrial Strategy White Paper launched today. In the UK, a White Paper is a government report giving information or proposals on an issue.

Unveiling the White Paper, Business Secretary Greg Clark said the strategy sets out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and boost the earning power of people across the UK.

"Nuclear is a vital part of our energy mix, providing low-carbon power now and into the future," the document says, adding that the safe and efficient decommissioning of the country's nuclear legacy is an area of "world leading expertise".

The nuclear sector, under the leadership of Lord (John) Hutton, is "in advanced discussions with the government on a range of ambitious proposals to increase competitiveness and achieve greater value at both national and regional levels", it says.

Together with Richard Harrington, the minister for energy and industrial strategy at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Hutton co-chairs the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC), which was re-established in February 2017 following a review by government and industry. The NIC's primary role is to provide strategic leadership to the nuclear industry. Among its responsibilities is oversight of the development and delivery of a nuclear Sector Deal as part of the government's Industrial Strategy.

Sector Deal

The strategy states that industry-led proposals for a nuclear Sector Deal focus on how, working with the government, substantial cost reductions can be achieved across the UK's new build and decommissioning programmes.

"There are shared interests in improving productivity and the opportunities to improve the UK's competitiveness, domestic capability and export growth. The sector's proposals cover the supply chain, nuclear R&D and skills, where the aim of the deal is to help deliver the diverse workforce needed for the future, supporting a potential 100,000 jobs from Cumbria, north Wales, Somerset, Essex and Suffolk," it says.

Further details of their ongoing discussions will be announced in the coming weeks, it adds.

Hutton, who is also chairman of the UK's Nuclear Industry Association, said the government's Industrial Strategy "recognises both that low-carbon, secure and reliable nuclear power is a 'vital part of our energy mix' and the wider economic contribution the nuclear industry can continue to make across the UK".

He added: "Every year our power stations have generated home grown electricity for homes, businesses and public services, provided tens of thousands of skilled long-term jobs and avoided the emission of millions of tonnes of CO2. As we build new capacity to replace retiring power stations, and decommission old ones, the UK is well placed to develop supply chains, skills and international opportunities for the long term. Industry has made significant progress with government towards agreeing a sector deal which will maximise those opportunities and help improve productivity, foster innovation and reduce cost."

Clean growth

In its Industrial Strategy, the government has identified four "grand challenges", meaning global trends that will shape the country's "rapidly changing future". These include 'clean growth', which the government explained in its Clean Growth Strategy, issued by BEIS on 12 October.

That strategy states the UK played a central role in securing the 2015 Paris Agreement in which, for the first time, 195 countries (representing over 90% of global economic activity) agreed stretching national targets to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees.

BEIS said it had welcomed early work on sector deals in nuclear, auto manufacturing and industrial digitalisation, all of which are "central to productivity in the low-carbon economy". The strategy highlights the delivery of new nuclear capacity through the final investment decision last year on Hinkley Point C - under construction in Somerset, England - and the government's intention to "progress discussions with developers to secure a competitive price for future projects in the pipeline". It states the need to bring down the costs of nuclear power while maintaining safety by investing in innovation that will help plants to be built to time and budget.

The government has asked the Nuclear Innovation and Research Office to convene a new advisory board, building on the success of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board. The board will provide independent expertise and advice to support and inform the government's Nuclear Innovation Programme.

The government also announced in that strategy that it will invest GBP7.0 million ($9.3 million) to further develop the capability and capacity of nuclear regulators to support the development of advanced technologies.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News