The APPG said in a new report supported by the UK Nuclear Industry Association that most of the UK’s commercial reactor units will retire by March 2024 with Sizewell B being the only station of the current fleet still operating in the next decade.
Without new investment, the UK will lose critical capabilities and its position as “an international leader” in nuclear technology, the report warned.
The APPG has urged the UK government to prioritise the introduction of legislation for a new nuclear financing model by the end of the year.
The government should also support specific projects which can deliver new capacity, while the nuclear industry must continue its work on reducing costs of new projects by at least 30% by 2030, the report said.
According to the report, the UK’s seven AGR (advanced gas-cooled reactor) power stations will all retire by 2030.
Even before these retirements, UK progress on the decarbonisation of power had stalled, said the report.
“Nuclear is the only clean power source the UK can rely on to stabilise our grid and to bolster our energy security”, the report said. “If the nuclear fleet is allowed to retire without replacement, we will fall further from our climate goals.”
The APPG also warned that fleet retirement without replacement will make the UK lose “critical“ skills and capabilities that will be hard to recover, while investors and developers will lose confidence in the UK.
The APPG referred to the UK government’s energy white paper and Boris Johnson’s 10 Point Plan as documents supportive of nuclear power, pursuing multiple large-scale nuclear projects and investment in small and advanced modular reactors (SMR and AMR), and fusion.
“Building new capacity to replace the retiring fleet is the essential starting point to realise this vision, and to provide proof of cost reduction and UK value creation in nuclear projects,” said the APPG.
A proposed roadmap outlines the end of 2021 as a proposed target for the UK government to start the legislative process for a financing model to cover all stages of large and small new nuclear projects and agree on a five-year funding plan for delivery of an advanced modular demonstration project.
In 2022, the roadmap calls on the government to support a Sizewell C final investment decision and establish a siting and policy framework to enable the deployment of a fleet of SMRs and an AMR demonstrator.
The UK currently has 15 nuclear reactor units with commercial operation status at seven sites* with a total capacity of nearly 9 GW, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Earlier this month EDF Energy confirmed the decision to shut down two AGR reactors at Dungeness B, which will bring the operating fleet down to 13 units.
APPGs are informal cross-party groups in the UK parliament which have no official status. APPGs are usually run by members of parliament, however, many choose to involve individuals and organisations from outside parliament in their administration and activities.
*Heysham A and B are counted as a single site.