Tom Greatrex, the association’s chief executive, said: “We have to grow the industry’s contribution to a low-carbon economy.”
He said: “The independent committee on climate change said earlier this year that we need a variety of technologies including nuclear power to reach the UK’s target of net zero emissions by 2050”.
The UK’s 15 commercial nuclear plants provide about 17.7% of the country’s electricity, but according to the International Atomic Energy Agency the fleet is comparatively old and this is giving rise to safety related ageing issues and the possibility of permanent shutdowns for decommissioning.
Plans for new nuclear at Wylfa Newydd in north Wales and Moorside in Cumbria have been delayed or cancelled. One of the factors in the delays has been failure to find the right financing model.
The only commercial nuclear plants under construction in the UK are the two 1,600-MW EPR units at Hinkley Point C in southwest England.
At the association’s annual conference, which opened today in London, leading nuclear industry figures called for a major programme of new nuclear power stations to hit ambitious emissions reduction targets.
The conference highlighted the need for “a proven, dependable source of low-carbon electricity generation alongside growth in weather-dependent solar and wind power,” the NIA said.
Without this, the UK risks relying on carbon-emitting gas fired power stations for generations to come.
Annual public opinion polling released today to coincide with the conference revealed 75% of the population want the UK government to take more action to reduce CO2 emissions.
The survey, conducted by YouGov in October 2019, shows continued and consistent public support for an energy mix including nuclear and renewables, with 72% of respondents agreeing this was needed to ensure a reliable supply of electricity.
Nuclear power was also perceived as the most secure energy source for keeping the lights on, compared to other sources such as oil, gas, coal, wind power, fracking and solar power.