UK needs 10GW of new nuclear to reach net zero: The UK net zero by 2050 target needs a commitment of 10GW of new nuclear power to reach, but costs need to fall.

That’s according to innovation agency Energy Systems Catapult in a new analysis, which suggests for the UK’s future energy system, nuclear power is important and emphasises beyond Hinkley Point C, committing to a further 10GW of new nuclear is a ‘low regrets option’ but notes more needs to be done to effectively address the high cost of deployment.

Any UK Government efforts to meet net zero without new nuclear power could put the 2050 target at risk and would likely make the shift to a low carbon economy significantly more expensive – it even goes as far as to suggest as much as 50GW of nuclear may be needed by 2050 in order to help decarbonise heat and hydrogen production, if the sector manages to reduce costs, the report notes.

The government must support ‘stage-gated development programmes’ for UK deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced Gen IV reactors it suggests over the next five years.

This would help plan the shape and mix of a 2050 UK Net Zero energy system, alongside assessing the progress of alternative low carbon energy technology development.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) say analysts. because it can be deployed in various ways, including in the production of hydrogen production, can also become an essential technology during the net zero journey.

Mike Middleton, Energy Systems Catapult Nuclear Practice Manager said: “There are no easy paths to get the entire UK economy to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050 but there is a credible path available to realise significant nuclear cost reduction delivering potentially lower costs and risks associated with achieving UK Net Zero.

“Firstly, a commitment to a programme of capacity rather than individual unconnected projects. Secondly, capitalising on the benefits from deploying units in an uninterrupted construction sequence, with multiple units on the same site where possible.”

UK needs 10GW of new nuclear to reach net zero

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