Nuclear has ‘clear role to play’ in UK Industrial Strategy

Image by OxymanNuclear power accounted for a fifth of total electricity produced in the UK last year and it remains the largest single source of low carbon electricity in the UK, providing 46% of the low carbon electricity produced, with wind, solar, hydro and biomass providing the remainder, according to the Nuclear Industry Association’s first Activity Report, issued today. With two-thirds of all dispatchable power capacity retiring between 2010 and 2030, including all but one of the country’s existing nuclear stations, the NIA warns that this will need to be replaced with a new fleet to continue providing the reliable, secure low carbon power the UK will need.

NIA represents more than 250 companies across the supply chain serving the UK’s civil nuclear industry.

Lord (John) Hutton, chairman of the London-headquartered trade association, said: “Beginning the construction of much anticipated and increasingly important new build programme and the continued progress being made across decommissioning has helped develop UK capability across its supply chains. There is also a significant opportunity for the sector in developing the first small modular reactors – a global market which could be worth up to £400 billion.

“The nuclear industry will have a clear role to play in achieving the government’s aims for a modern Industrial Strategy. We have made significant progress with government through the Nuclear Industry Council, towards agreeing an early Sector Deal which will maximise these opportunities and help improve productivity, foster innovation and reduce cost.”

In its Industrial Strategy White Paper launched on 27 November, the government said the nuclear sector is “integral to increasing productivity and driving growth” in the UK. The strategy states that industry-led proposals for a nuclear Sector Deal focus on how, working with the government, substantial cost reductions can be achieved across the UK’s new build and decommissioning programmes.

Economic contribution

A new study compiled by experts Oxford Economics and commissioned by the NIA shows that the UK’s civil nuclear sector contributed GBP6.4 billion to the UK economy last year – equivalent to the aerospace manufacturing industry; and its 65,000 employees are part of one of the most productive workforces in the country.

The report, published today, shows this economic impact increases to GBP12.4 billion and 155,000 jobs when the sector’s spending on associated goods and services in the supply chain and the wage spend by employees is taken into account.

Each nuclear sector employee contributes an average of GBP96,600 in gross value added to the economy, 73% higher than the UK average, reflecting the highly-skilled nature of the workforce and the use of advanced technologies. This direct impact, while accounting for 0.3% of UK GDP, also generates substantial sums in taxes paid to the Exchequer, with the report estimating the sector paid around GBP2.8 billion in tax payments in 2016, rising to GBP4.5 billion when associated spend is included.

Progress made

The NIA’s Activity Report outlines the progress made across the nuclear sector in 2016, including: a saving of 22.7 tonnes of CO2 from nuclear operations – the equivalent of removing one third of the UK’s cars from the road; an increase in output from nuclear stations of 4.5 TWh meaning nuclear remained the largest single low carbon source of electricity in the UK; producing enough electricity to power 16.3 million homes; beginning construction of the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C; significant contracts in the UK and overseas being awarded to UK supply chain companies; and cost savings made across all decommissioning projects, including more than GBP200 million at Sellafield.

Tom Greatrex, NIA chief executive, said: “For the first time we have comprehensive data which shows the important role the UK’s civil nuclear sector plays in generating highly skilled and well-paid jobs, making a significant contribution to the economy and supplying low carbon electricity to keep the lights on.

He added: “The UK’s nuclear sector is a vital part of the UK’s industrial heritage and the government’s Industrial Strategy and the work being undertaken to bring forward a Nuclear Sector Deal will be vital to underpinning and ultimately increasing this contribution.”

Courtesy WNN
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