New nuclear can be affordable, report concludes

A view of nuclear island, where the first reactor will be based, at Hinkley Point C two years into t

A view of nuclear island, where the first reactor will be based, at Hinkley Point C two years into the build Picture: EDF ENERGY - Credit: Archant

New nuclear – which includes plans for a Sizewell C power plant – can be an affordable part of the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy, according to a report.

An artist's impression of what Sizewell C will look like Picture: EDF ENERGY

An artist's impression of what Sizewell C will look like Picture: EDF ENERGY - Credit: Archant

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) said factors such as replicating designs and locating reactors at the same sites as existing ones were key, but cutting costs and risks was "eminently achievable".

In an update report on the role for nuclear in the UK's transition to a low carbon economy, ETI chief executive Jonathan Wills identified eight "drivers of cost", setting out how obstacles could be overcome.

MORE - Nuclear energy firm seeks 'positive relationship' with landowners as agents appointedEDF Energy, which is behind the first new nuclear plant - now two years into construction at Hinkley Point C in Somerset and on schedule to start producing electricity in 2025 - welcomed the report.

Its findings fit with its belief that the lessons learnt from that project offer considerable benefits for the Sizewell C scheme in Suffolk, ensuring it will be cheaper, and construction processes smoother.

Site engineers ground nailing at Hinkley Point C's Reactor 2 heat sink Picture: EDF ENERGY

Site engineers ground nailing at Hinkley Point C's Reactor 2 heat sink Picture: EDF ENERGY - Credit: Archant

EDF Energy is replacing the UK's existing nuclear power stations by building Hinkley Point C in Somerset and has plans to build a near identical station at Sizewell C, which it estimates would save 9m tonnes of CO2 a year while delivering power to 6m homes.

Mr Wills said committing to multiple units of the same design to "smooth resourcing and maximise learning" was important. "Locating reactors on the same site where possible and sharing the same infrastructure helps," he added. But to guarantee costs would be cut, organisations behind the projects needed to co-ordinate improvements across the piece, he said.

"There may be potential future roles for advanced low-cost nuclear technologies operating at higher temperatures capable of supplying power, high temperature industrial heat, and hydrogen," he added.

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The potential benefits of using these technologies alongside renewables and carbon capture, storage and use could be significant, but had yet to be properly explored, he said.

Sizewell C project development director Jim Crawford said: "We welcome the ETI report issued today (June 19) which recognises the important role of nuclear in the UK's transition to a low carbon economy and that replication is key to driving down costs."