New Nuclear

The Debate

After the formal presentations, the speakers responded to questions from the audience on a variety of subjects, including: SMRs; skills and jobs; climate change; and financial factors.

Is it realistic to expect communities to accept SMRs in particular and nuclear more generally? Demand from industry is growing for low-carbon power and industry will come to where that power is. Communities are interested in the jobs that come with that. A non-nuclear community is already engaged in discussions about hosting a Geological Disposal Facility.

There is a majority of the population in favour of nuclear. Many younger people are joining the nuclear industry as they see it as a green technology. The number of staff needed by SMRs compared with gigawatt stations is broadly proportional to size. A key issue is that, with an expanding nuclear industry, there is a significant training requirement, although there should be time to address that. The Green Task Force is working on the jobs needed for the net zero transition, including nuclear. One element which may help with skills shortages is to promote cooperation rather than competition across the nuclear industry. Yet skills will remain an issue and we need to increase our ambition in delivering certain key high-end skills – not just in nuclear engineering but also in high-end construction.

There are many things that the nuclear industry can learn from other sectors, particularly shipbuilding and defence. There are also potential opportunities internationally in being a leader in nuclear decommissioning. Nuclear fusion is an area with real UK strength. There is, too, plenty of technology which can transfer over from an SMR to a small fusion reactor.

Climate change needs to be considered in the design and siting of nuclear power stations and the GDF. It has indeed be a key part of the design of a GDF, including the potential for rising sea levels. The GDF itself would also be based on low carbon construction methods and materials. A single GDF should be sufficient for the UK’s needs for well over 100 years.

Nuclear still needs to become a better proposition for the investor community, which has seen previous nuclear projects significantly over budget and behind schedule. The Government has announced that it is minded, subject to consultation, to give a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) licence to Sizewell C. The project will have investment grade debt, and similar commercial risk characteristics. In terms of the equity, the model has a capped upside and a capped downside. It should therefore produce an extremely predictable long-term return.


British Energy Security Strategy (HM Government, April 2022)


Sizewell C and New Nuclear Power – Podcast with Dr Mina Golshan, Safety, Security and Assurance Director at Sizewell C

UK Energy Strategy – Podcast with Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist and Policy Director, Greenpeace UK