As world leaders meet in Glasgow, Scotland, for the Cop26 climate summit, the NIA said the country’s commercial nuclear reactors are the most productive low-carbon assets in British history, saving 1.4 billion tonnes of carbon emissions between them. That is higher than all UK emissions from 2018 through 2020.
Hinkley Point B in Somerset, England, and Hunterston B in North Ayrshire, Scotland, were the first of today’s fleet to come online in 1976 and were joined by six more stations, which have been powering the UK for 45 years.
In total, nuclear has saved the UK more than 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, far more than any other green energy source.
The NIA also said that with the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, it has launched a website Net Zero Needs Nuclear, netzeroneedsnuclear.com. The site has been designed to help people understand how nuclear contributes to the fight against climate change and its different capabilities to deliver green energy in the future. The website says nuclear can complement renewables and in future could be used to produce green hydrogen and provide clean heat to heavy industry.
NIA chief executive Tom Greatrex said nuclear has made an historic contribution to the UK’s fight against climate change. But he warned that since all but one of the current fleet will be offline by 2030, nuclear’s contribution can only be sustained “if we build new nuclear power stations that will provide the firm, low-carbon power we need for net zero”
He said: “That is why the government’s introduction of a new nuclear financing model is critical to mobilise new investment and close the clean power gap.”
Last month the government put forward proposals for a regulated asset base (RAB) financing bill for nuclear. The NIA said the RAB model will save consumers billions on their bills by cutting the cost of funding projects and help deliver net zero.
Most of the UK’s existing fleet of 13 reactors, which supply about 15% of the country’s electricity, are being retired this decade, with the last one due to close in 2035. France’s state-backed EDF is currently building Hinkley Point C in Somerset, the only new nuclear plant in the UK. It wants to build two EPR units at Sizewell C.
Three projects – Wylfa, Moorside and Oldbury – have either been cancelled or shelved, largely because of financing problems, while Bradwell remains in the early technical stages.