The UK Treasury said yesterday it is important to consider large-scale nuclear projects in addition to Hinkley Point C (HPC) if the country is to meet its net-zero by 2050 target. This assessment rejects the advice of the National Infrastructure Commission two years ago that the government should not agree support for more than one nuclear power station beyond HPC, before 2025.
The Treasury outlined its position towards new nuclear in two documents – Response to the National Infrastructure Assessment and National Infrastructure Strategy Fairer, faster, greener. These followed the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution the government unveiled last week and which includes nuclear power.
According to the Ten Point Plan, the government will provide up to GBP525 million (USD700 million) to bring forward large-scale nuclear and invest in the development of advanced nuclear research and development, including up to GBP385 million in an Advanced Nuclear Fund for small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors. This is alongside GBP220 million for nuclear fusion.
In its response to the NIC report of July 2018, the Treasury said the government agrees with the assessment of the importance of developing a flexible electricity system and the significant role of renewable generation in delivering a low cost, stable, reliable and low carbon electricity system. The government also recognises the NIC’s view that a large degree of uncertainty remains which affects what the optimal mix of electricity generation technologies might be in 2050. Since the NIC assessment was published, however, the government has legislated for a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In its infrastructure strategy, the Treasury says: “Nuclear is a proven, value-for-money source of reliable low carbon power which can complement renewables. The government is pursuing large-scale nuclear projects, subject to clear value for money for both consumers and taxpayers and all relevant approvals, with further details to follow in the Energy White Paper.”
It adds: “Last year, the government consulted on a nuclear Regulated Asset Base (RAB). The government is considering the responses to this consultation and expects to publish a response in due course. Alongside considering the RAB model the government will also continue to consider the potential role of government finance during construction, provided there is clear value for money for consumers and taxpayers.”
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, welcomed the Treasury’s assessment of new nuclear.
“Meeting net zero by 2050 is incompatible with the flawed analysis offered by the National Infrastructure Commission,” Greatrex said. “It is right that the UK government have rejected [NIC Chairman] John Armitt’s group in clear and stark terms – nuclear alongside other low-carbon technologies will be required to decarbonise, and it was never a sound position to suggest otherwise. The focus now must be on delivering the infrastructure required to meet net zero – and avoiding wasting further time, effort and attention in seeking to pit low carbon technologies against each other.”
Source: World Nuclear News