The NIA said sent a letter, signed by 26 leading figures in the fields of environment, energy, and industry, to all parliamentary candidates for next month’s general election, outlining the benefits of nuclear and warning against the consequences of "not at least replacing" the current nuclear reactor fleet in the UK.
“The next parliamentary term will be crucial for our energy infrastructure”, said Tom Greatrex, chief executive officer of the NIA.
“We have to maintain the growth in renewables, but a move away from fossil fuels means weather-dependent sources of power need the low carbon backbone of stable energy that nuclear provides”, he said.
According to the NIA, nuclear energy generation provides nearly half the UK’s low-carbon electricity and about 20% of the country’s electricity overall. The nuclear industry is also estimated to employ about 60,000 people.
The NIA said the government should take five “key” steps to support nuclear power in the UK – establish long-term clarity on energy policy; maintain an industrial strategy to help UK firms in the sector cut costs and expand business; commit to a “progressive” decommissioning programme; build up the workface expertise in the nuclear field; and support innovation and future generations of nuclear technology and fuels.
The NIA also said decarbonising the whole of the UK economy will need large reactors like those planned for Sizewell, Bradwell and elsewhere in the UK, alongside new technologies such as small and advanced reactors, together with nuclear fusion – as well as renewables.
However, despite progress at Hinkley Point C, major new nuclear projects like Wylfa Newydd and Moorside have been stopped altogether, the NIA said.
“There is currently a hiatus in much needed investment”, said Tom Greatrex.
“Progress depends on a new approach to financing being implemented promptly. This can deliver the investment needed, and just as importantly bring down the price paid by electricity consumers”, Mr Greatrex said.