UK ministers want the nation to tap into the £1trillion global nuclear market, they said today in a new strategy for civil nuclear power.
Business Secretary Vince Cable and Energy Secretary Ed Davey announced the plans which cover the whole market from new build, operations and maintenance to waste management, decommissioning and fuel cycle services.
“The timing of this Nuclear Industrial Strategy comes at a watershed in the development of nuclear power in the UK and indeed globally,” stated the Lib Dem ministers in the Foreword to the report.
Last week Hinkley Point C was given planning approval making it likely to be the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK for two decades. The ministers said: “[It] is a clear prospect provided the agreement offers value for money for consumers and is consistent with the Government’s policy of no public subsidy for new nuclear. More should follow.”
A significant amount of money is being put into nuclear, revealed the strategy, including £15 million for a new ‘world class’ National Nuclear Users Facility for universities and companies carrying out research based mainly in Cumbria and Oxfordshire.
Thirty-five nuclear research and development projects have won £18 million worth of support from a Technology Strategy Board competition, such as LaserSnake technology, which is a robot-controlled laser cutting tool that can be used as part of nuclear decommissioning projects.
Mr Cable said: “The nuclear industry presents significant multi billion pound long-term opportunities for UK companies and for thousands of high value jobs… We have some of the finest workers, research facilities and academics in the world. But we need to sharpen those competitive advantages to become a top table nuclear nation.”
Greenpeace slammed the policy for propping up the “nuclear dinosaur”. The campaign group’s policy director Doug Parr said: “Ministers seem intent on straining themselves to keep nuclear alive, whilst allowing proven technologies like wind to labour.”
However Sir John Beddington, the government’s Chief Scientific Advisor who yesterday warned of climate risks said: “I am convinced that nuclear power will play a pivotal role in the UK’s energy future. The requirement for nuclear power may exceed current plans for new build, perhaps substantially. It’s therefore crucial that we keep a wide range of technological options open so that we are able to meet this potential demand in a safe and sustainable manner.”