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Breaking down the UK’s £200m Nuclear Sector Deal that aims to drive down nuclear energy costs

The UK Government's £200m Nuclear Sector Deal includes a commitment to strengthen pioneering research, reduce nuclear costs and increase diversity in the workforce

The UK’s nuclear energy sector has been given a shot in the arm by a £200m Government deal that aims to secure its future and bring down energy bills.

The Nuclear Sector Deal aims to ensure that nuclear energy continues to power the UK for years to come through major innovation, cutting-edge technology and ensuring a diverse and highly-skilled workforce.

It includes a £32m funding pot to kick-start a new advanced manufacturing programme that will include research and development (R&D) investment to develop potential world-leading technologies like advanced modular reactors.

A £40m thermal hydraulics plant will be built in North Wales, while there is also a commitment to increase gender diversity with a target of 40% women working in the civil nuclear sector by 2030.

Today’s (28 June) announcement comes in addition to a £40m centre that will be developed in North Wales.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK is the home of civil nuclear technology and with this investment in innovation and our commitment to increasing diversity in an already highly-skilled workforce, I want to ensure we remain the world leader.

Nuclear energy not only fuels our power supply, it fuels local jobs, wages, economic prosperity and drives UK innovation.

“The Nuclear Sector Deal marks an important moment for the government and industry to work collectively to deliver the modern Industrial Strategy, drive clean growth and ensure civil nuclear remains an important part of the UK’s energy future.

 

What the Nuclear Sector Deal involves

The Nuclear Sector Deal aims to spearhead Britain’s move towards cleaner economic growth, while promoting new opportunities in the sector – including a focus on innovation to develop the technology and skills needed to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in nuclear power.

Nuclear energy has powered the UK for more than 60 years, with a world-leading record for safety, and today generates about 20% of the country’s electricity – helping it to move away from a reliance on “dirty” coal.

Features of the deal include:

  • £86m funding for a national fusion technology platform at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Science Centre in Culham, Oxfordshire, to strengthen pioneering research with the potential for global impact
  • Up to £44m in R&D funding for developing advanced molecular reactors
  • Building a £40m thermal hydraulics plant at a former nuclear power site in Trawsfynydd, North Wales as part of the Nuclear Innovation Programme to support the design and development of advanced nuclear technologies, in a partnership with the Welsh Government
  • A commitment by the industry to reduce the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30% by 2030, and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% in the same time frame
  • Unlocking growth opportunities in the nuclear supply chain through joint Government and industry support for smaller companies in the UK to access higher value contracts and new markets
  • Deliver 100,000 nuclear jobs by 2021, with a target set for 40% of women to be working in the whole sector by 2030

Should the diversity goal be achieved, it would almost double the representation of women in the sector, which currently stands at 22%. Of these, only 15% are nuclear engineers.

 

What key people have said about the Nuclear Sector Deal

Lord Hutton, co-chairman of the Nuclear Industry Council, said: “The industry wants nuclear energy to remain competitive against other forms of low-carbon energy – which is why we are committed to working with government to reduce costs across the sector.

“Today’s funding boost will support this common goal; increasing the UK’s industrial capabilities as well as signalling our global leadership in nuclear to the rest of the world.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP added: “British innovation is at the forefront of worldwide advancements in the nuclear sector, and there is clearly a demand for UK goods and services from around the world.

“This demand is exactly why we’re putting a strong emphasis on our ambition to secure £2 billion of contracts related to the sector by 2030, both at home and overseas.”