The UK's nuclear sector needs support and clarity from the government

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Views Of Hinkley Point C During Construction
The Hinkley Point C construction site is one of the largest in Europe (Source: Getty)

Britain's nuclear sector needs the government and industry to commit to the country’s nuclear capability in the critical next decade, a new report suggests.

EY will publish a report today saying the government estimates investment of more than £45bn will be needed to develop the first three new nuclear power plants: Hinkley Point C, Wylfa Newydd and Moorside.

Innovative ideas like small modular reactors will bring even more opportunities for new skills and capacity within the supply chain.

Read more: The government is set to publish a new report on mini nuclear power plants

Chris Lewis, EY’s UK & Ireland infrastructure lead, called for more clarity from the government on the need for new nuclear power and the sector's long-term strategic goals.

All but one of the UK's nuclear plants are set to close by the end of the 2020s. Meanwhile, demand for electricity is expected to shoot up 20 per cent over the next two decades.

Lewis said:

For the UK’s nuclear supply chain to capitalise on these opportunities, the industry needs to provide the pivot from an uncertain outlook.

We need a model where the supply chain has the confidence from a clear pipeline of new build contracts, a unified industry championing the UK’s expertise and credentials, and investors are motivated and clear on the domestic and export opportunities.

Bragging rights

The report said it was "critical" to understand the attributes of the UK supply chain, which includes a strong nuclear development record as well as some of the most advanced decommissioning programmes.

Miranda Kirschel, from EY’s capital & infrastructure energy advisory team, said: “Our research repeatedly noted that the UK is far too humble about its capability. It was suggested that, due to the poor marketing of the industry, the current UK supply chain contribution to new nuclear is in the lower value civil requirements, such as earthworks, as opposed to the higher-value work in technology.

“The common view was that the industry should be held accountable and collaborate in a strategic manner, as there could be a stronger approach to positively market the capabilities – at home and internationally. Ultimately, this is about recognising the extensive capability and capitalising on this for the benefit of the UK supply chain, Kirschel said.

Read more: GMB calls for nuclear decommissioning overhaul after blunders cost £122m

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