Without investment in new nuclear capacity, Britain’s security of energy supply is at risk, which could mean increasing its dependency on fossil-fuelled power generation. This could lead to the Government having to choose between meeting Net Zero and keeping the lights on.
A new report by the Centre for Policy Studies being launched today argues that to ensure the country is able to cope with the expected doubling of electricity demand by 2050, in a way which is compatible with Net Zero, the Government must continue to support nuclear power generation in the UK.
As set out in ‘Bridging the Gap’, the construction of at least one additional plant would provide a significant boost to Britain’s energy security while seven of the UK’s eight nuclear power stations are decommissioned by 2030. It would complement Britain’s booming renewables portfolio and help to manage periods of variability.
Analysis in the report shows how wind and solar provided less than 20% of daily electricity demand on 82 separate occasions in 2020, including a period of over a week in August and a week in November.
To support the development of new nuclear facilities, the think tank recommends exploring innovative financing methods, such as the Regulated Asset Base model, which would allow developers to charge consumers a set amount before electricity generation commences. This could cut borrowing costs and lead to cheaper energy prices for families and businesses.
Renewed investment in nuclear energy could also maintain a pipeline of skills and knowledge, ensuring Britain is well-placed to spearhead the next generation of nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors and fusion reactors.
The report also suggests that streamlining current decarbonisation policy and a simplified and standardised price on carbon could level the playing field between generation methods, stimulating the green tech markets ensuring the country can reach Net Zero in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
A summary of the report is available here