UK nuclear industry unveils Sector Deal proposals

07 December 2017

The UK's Nuclear Industry Council (NIC) has today published its proposals for a nuclear Sector Deal. The document follows the government's publication last month of its Industrial Strategy white paper, which states the nuclear sector is "integral to increasing productivity and driving growth" in the UK.

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.

NIC said today: "We are presenting a series of actions for industry, with government involvement, across key activity areas for our industry - new build, decommissioning and future technology. There are areas where industry will work collaboratively on skills, on research, on helping develop the supply chain and with local economic partnerships and the holders of devolved powers, to realise that potential.

"It is an exciting agenda, and a series of opportunities which can best be realised with a shared determination and commitment from both industry and government, which will both enhance a strategically important sector but also help deliver the country's ambitious industrial strategy for the future."

The document lists 'summary tables' for: New Build; Decommissioning and Waste Management; Future Technology and Innovation; Maximising Economic Benefits; and Skills and Training. These each then list the Benefits, Ask of Government, Industry Offer, and Next Steps.

For example, under New Build, the document outlines the aim to reduce the cost of capital for new projects. The benefits are to reduce the overall project costs and strike prices - a 1% reduction in the cost of capital equates to 10% reduction in the contract-for-difference strike price. The Ask of Government here is to explore options for government financial involvement as set out in the recent National Audit Office report. The Industry Offer is to commit to reduce new build costs across the programme over time and to support government-led supply chain development initiatives. The Next Steps are for government and developers to work jointly to assess the options.

Another example, under SMR and future reactor programmes, the Benefits are: to expand the nuclear contribution to energy goals; a long-term strategic vision for the industry; to bring forward reactor designs at lower cost; to increase UK IP and technology content; to capture share of export markets. The Ask of Government is: a clear direction on the conclusion of the SMR competition and the next steps; funding for R&D for new designs; and facilitative actions to enable projects to be brought to market. The Industry offer is to bring forward projects at successively lower costs and to develop significant UK IP and technology content. The Next Steps are to announce the conclusion of the SMR competition and to agree a long-term vision for the nuclear industry.

NIC noted that the UK is one of only a few countries with a nuclear industry covering the full life cycle of enrichment capability, fuel production, generation, decommissioning and research. It has major nuclear engineering companies supported by a strong supply chain and skills network, a vibrant research capability and a highly respected regulator and regulatory framework, NIC said. Together, this provides an important element of the UK's industrial capacity, it added.

The NIC comprises executive-level members from across the nuclear industry, as well as government and regulators. It is co-chaired by Lord John Hutton, chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), and Richard Harrington, the minister for energy and industry at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Opening the NIA's annual conference in London today, Hutton said NIC hoped to see the nuclear Sector Deal completed in the early part of next year.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News