At the end of January, I had the privilege of visiting London to participate in Nuclear Week in Parliament. The event brought together experts from the nuclear industry, government, and academia to discuss the role of nuclear power in achieving a low carbon future.
While there, I had the opportunity to engage in insightful discussions with leading experts on the current state of the nuclear industry, the challenges and opportunities it faces, and the role it can play in decarbonizing the energy sector.
As the Low Carbon Innovation Manager at M-SParc, I believe is it important to have a reliable and varied energy mix, while ensuring we phase out the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. Nuclear power is a proven low carbon technology that can provide reliable and clean electricity to meet growing energy demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and I believe it is a crucial piece of the Net Zero puzzle.
Nuclear power currently provides an average of 16% of the UKs electricity, but this will decrease over the next decade as we see all but the newly constructed Hinkley Point C come offline by 2035. This could result in an energy gap in the UK, and without serious commitments and investment by UK Government in new nuclear, it is hard to see how we will fill this gap, especially as energy demands increase year on year.
In addition to its role in reducing carbon emissions, nuclear power is also a source of high-quality jobs, technological innovation, and economic growth. The nuclear industry is constantly evolving and developing new technologies, such as small modular reactors and advanced fuel cycles, that can enhance the sustainability and competitiveness of nuclear power.
However, despite the clear benefits of nuclear power, there are still challenges including the need for a long-term programme from Government for the deployment of nuclear, including small scale projects, so that the industry has greater certainty in the future programme and required investment. This will allow developers and investors to plan and invest accordingly and will help reduce the risk profile associated with new nuclear build. There also needs to be strategic investment into Great British Nuclear (GBN) to enable the development of this key nuclear programme.
In conclusion, Nuclear Week in Parliament was a valuable opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the current state of the nuclear industry and to exchange ideas with leading experts. The event reinforced my belief that nuclear power is a crucial component of our energy mix and a key solution to achieving a low carbon future but that a clear steer from Government is required to enable the industry to develop the projects required.