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Report: Future Electricity Series Part 3 - Power from Nuclear

Report: Future Electricity Series Part 3 - Power from Nuclear

Power from Nuclear outlines the important role that nuclear could play in the UK’s transition to a low carbon electricity supply over coming decades, and is the final of three reports in Carbon Connect’s Future Electricity Series, which examines what role fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear can play in providing secure, sustainable and affordable electricity in the UK.  OVERVIEW This independent, cross-party report highlights the key role that political consensus can play in helping to reduce the costs of nuclear power in the UK, as well as other low carbon technologies. This political consensus has never been more important than in this ‘defining decade’ for the power sector. ---“This report [...] is not only an invaluable guide for evidence-based and constructive debate, but it highlights and discusses some of the most pressing issues for policy makers.”Baroness Worthington--- State Aid and Hinkley Point CThe report highlights that an immediate challenge facing the UK’s new build programme is agreeing with the European Commission a regime for supporting new nuclear power. Changing the proposed support package would not be an impossible task if made necessary, but maintaining broad political consensus and considering the implications of delay are also important. The State Aid process is an important opportunity for scrutiny, with the report demonstrating that shareholders for Hinkley Point C could see bigger returns (19-21%) than those typically expected for PFI projects (12-15%). However, it is too early to conclude on the value for money of the Hinkley Point C agreement. Both the negotiation process and the resulting investment contract are important, but there has been little transparency over either so far and the negotiations were not competitive. ---“The Future Electricity Series [...] should be read by anyone who wants an expert, easily-understood explanation of the opportunities and challenges that each technology presents.”Charles Hendry MP--- PlutoniumThe inquiry calls for more urgency and better coordination in seizing the opportunity to reuse the UK’s plutonium stockpile. The UK’s stockpile of separated plutonium presents opportunities to tackle a number of national strategic priorities including implementing long term solutions for nuclear waste, developing new technologies that could redefine the sector, laying the ground for new nuclear power and pursuing nuclear non-proliferation.  Government has identified three ‘credible solutions’ for reuse, and the report recommends that it now sets clearer criteria against which to assess options and identifies budgetary requirements to help expediate the process. ---“I very much welcome the report and congratulate Carbon Connect […] The conclusions have my very strong support.”Tim Yeo MP, Chair, ECC Committee--- New technologies and fuelsThe report also argues that Government should do more on new nuclear technologies that could redefine the sector – such as considering smaller reactors, nuclear for industrial heat or hydrogen production, and closed or thorium fuel cycles. The Government’s initial response to a review of nuclear R&D a year ago by the then Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir John Beddington, has been welcome, and it needs to build on this. In particular, the UK should capitalise upon its existing expertise and past experience to focus efforts where there is most strategic value. Nulcear wasteHaving failed to date, the Government must urgently revisit plans for finding a site to store nuclear waste underground for thousands of years. Implementing this is a crucial part of demonstrating that nuclear waste is a manageable challenge. Despite being rejected by Cumbria County Council, the continuing strong support amongst communities in West Cumbria for hosting a site is a promising sign. ---“I’d like to congratulate those that compiled the report for doing an excellent job. It’s important that reports like this continue to come, because we had to wait 20 years for a report to set out the direction that nuclear energy was going in.”John Robertson MP, Labour--- Interaction with main policy objectivesOn affordability, the report finds that it is not yet clear which electricity generation technologies will be cheapest in the 2020s and beyond. Coal and gas could get more expensive if fossil fuel and carbon prices rise, whilst low carbon technologies could get cheaper as technology costs fall with more deployment. This is the main reason for adopting an ‘all of the above’ strategy, including nuclear power, until costs become clearer, and there is broad consensus behind this general approach.  On security of supply, the inquiry says that deployment of nuclear power is likely to be influenced more by the economics of system balancing rather than technical system balancing challenges, which can be met with greater deployment of existing balancing tools. The cost of maintaining system security is likely to mean that the UK maintains at least some baseload capacity, such as nuclear power, to limit system costs. On sustainability, the report finds that the environmental impacts of nuclear power are comparable to some generation technologies and favourable to others, although the long lived nature of some radioactive nuclear waste and the dual use potential of nuclear technology for civil and military applications create unique sustainability challenges, which the UK is a world leader in managing.  ---“‘Power from Nuclear’ sets out how new nuclear alongside renewables and fossil fuels including gas could contribute to meeting future electricity demand […] I’m pleased IGEM’s wide-ranging and expert membership has added significant value to this debate”Sarb Bajwa (CEO, IGEM)--- PRESS COVERAGE Telegraph | Businessgreen | Reuters | Utility Week | City A.M | Nuclear Engineering International The independent report, chaired by former Energy Minister Charles Hendry MP and Shadow Energy Minister Baroness Worthington, was compiled between September 2013 and March 2014, and was sponsored by Costain. It is the final report of the Future Electricity Series, an independent and cross party inquiry into the UK power sector, sponsored by the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers