According to the report, compiled by the London-based Nuclear Industry Association and members of the Nuclear Industry Council, prompt decisions on a new nuclear power programme could unlock mega-projects delivering immediate benefits to help tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An ambitious programme – based on existing and new technologies – could provide up to 40% of clean power by 2050 and drive deeper decarbonisation through the creation of hydrogen and other clean fuels, along with district heating.
It could eventually bring as many as 300,000 jobs and £33bn of added annual economic value.
But the report called on the government to “articulate a clear, long-term commitment to new nuclear power”. It said progress must be made on a funding model for nuclear new build to stimulate investment in new capacity and reduce the cost of capital.
This could be a regulated asset base model, direct government investment, or an alternative which could also be used on other large infrastructure projects required to reach net zero, the report said.
The report said the nuclear industry must continue to drive down costs of new build projects, aiming for a reduction of 30% by 2030. Addressing the costs of both construction and financing would make about £60/MWh achievable for the next wave of plants, reducing to about £40/MWh for further units. This compares to about £92.50 today, the report said.
The report also called for a national policy statement and the development of a programme including siting and licensing proposals for small reactors.
NIA chief executive Tom Greatrex said nuclear’s potential was vast, and costs were coming down, but concerted action was needed now to avoid missing out.
“Net Zero needs nuclear, and the sector is developing fast,” he said. “The next large-scale projects are now deliverable much more cheaply by building on repeat and tried and tested designs, capturing learnings from our new-build programme, and making important changes to the way projects are financed.”