Nuclear will help ‘keep lights on’, says former government adviser

The UK's energy infrastructure must be urgently overhauled if it is to successful decarbonise without the "lights going out" and reduce reliance on imported energy - with nuclear power playing a major role.

That is the conclusion a new report by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE) at the University of Oxford, which aims to ascertain what the UK needs to do to reduce carbon emissions and address energy security.

Analysing two key aspects of the UK energy landscape, including future delivery of low carbon energy and the initial moves towards a new build programme, the ‘Towards a low carbon pathway for the UK’ report suggests a host of new nuclear power stations are needed if the UK is to meet decarbonisation targets and secure its own low carbon energy.

Written by former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, the report says the UK must invest in nuclear in order to develop into £100bn “world-leading nuclear industry”. This, he argues will enable it to generate more than 75,000 jobs and guarantee a “consistent, safe energy supply, while still meeting long term carbon emission targets”.

Sir King said: “If we are to ensure we have a safe, secure and affordable supply of energy as we move through the century we need a coherent strategy that allows the UK to develop a full suite of low carbon energy sources. It is clear from our study that nuclear must play an important part in the energy mix but to do so requires a long term pathway and critical insights.”

As a result, the report suggests using either “much higher uranium reserves” than currently identified, or a change of fuel cycle to minimise uranium use to meet carbon targets.

Carys Matthews

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