Government’s nuclear strategy ‘lacks clarity’, warns EAC

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has warned the UK government’s nuclear strategy “lacks clarity” and it therefore could miss targets to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035.

Last year the government offered nuclear companies the chance to secure more than £157 million of grant funding as part of its Great British Nuclear initiative.

The EAC highlighted that the final investment decision on the first small modular reactors (SMR) won’t be made until 2029 and it is unlikely that the reactor project will contribute generating capacity to the grid until 2035.

The government also launched a Civil Nuclear Roadmap to quadruple nuclear power by 2050 up to 24GW, the biggest expansion in 2050.

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The roadmap encompasses power derived from fleets of SMRs. However, it also envisages a scenario where investment choices could result in a minimum generating capacity of 12GW. This ambiguity leaves the Government’s overall strategy for the sector unclear.

EAC chair Philip Dunne said: “[The] uncertainty risks knock-off effects for industry confidence: not only for investment decisions relating to the initial build and the construction of factories to build reactor modules, but also for the support and growth of supply chains and skills.

“We simply don’t yet know how much SMRs will contribute to electricity generation in the country, nor how much the roll-out is likely to cost the taxpayer.

“The Committee has therefore written to the secretary of state for energy security and net zero to seek clarity on a number of points relating to the Government’s policy on SMRs.”

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