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“Nuclear Industry Strategy”

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Government have today published “Nuclear Industrial Strategy”, which has been produced in consultation with industry and other interested stakeholders.

I set out last September the Government’s new industrial strategy. This is a long-term, whole-government approach, with partnership with industry at its heart. Its purpose is to establish a clear and consistent approach to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, with a view to stimulating economic growth and creating jobs.

Part of the industrial strategy is about supporting successful sectors. Today’s nuclear strategy is one of several sector strategies we will be developing between now and the summer in partnership with industry; and this is one of three that focuses on energy industries, the others being offshore wind and oil and gas.

The nuclear market provides significant opportunities for economic growth, with industry indicating that the UK new build programme (around 16GW) equates to investment of circa £60 billion, which could support an estimated 30,000 jobs1. Globally, investment in new nuclear power stations is projected to be £930 billion by 20302. And the global decommissioning market is estimated to grow to a value of £50 billion per annum by 2020.

Nuclear power has the potential to play an increasing role in meeting the UK’s future energy needs. It is a source of low-carbon energy and can contribute to the UK’s energy mix and security of supply longer term. This strategy—like those for offshore wind and oil and gas—will achieve a more effective alignment and integration of energy and industrial policy to enable the UK to deliver competitive energy technologies in future, with significant input from UK-based industry.

The strategy builds on much of the work that was undertaken last year in preparing a response to the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into the UK’s nuclear R and D capabilities. That response is also published today with the nuclear industrial strategy, and consists of:

A “Long Term Nuclear Energy Strategy”, which sets out the Government’s vision for nuclear energy, and its potential role in contributing to the UK’s future energy mix from the near term and up to 2050.

A nuclear “Industry Vision Statement”, which expresses the nuclear industry’s own ambitions for the future in the key areas of the nuclear new build programme, fuel cycle service, waste management and decommissioning, and operations and maintenance.

A nuclear R and D landscape review, which provides an assessment of current civil nuclear R and D capability.

A nuclear R and D road map, which provides an analysis of different scenarios for nuclear power up to 2050, and the R and D activities associated with those scenarios.

These different work streams were guided by an ad hoc nuclear R and D advisory board, chaired by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir John Beddington. The ad hoc advisory board made its own recommendations based on those work streams, which the nuclear industrial strategy seeks to address.

The strategy is also linked to the separate nuclear supply chain action plan that was published in December 2012. The implementation of the action plan will be co-ordinated with the work taken forward under the strategy.

The nuclear industrial strategy has been prepared at a time when important decisions are in prospect about building new nuclear power stations in the UK—the first new build for nearly 20 years. The scale and timing of the nuclear new build programme will depend on a number of factors, such as the competitiveness of nuclear energy compared to other technologies and attracting significant levels of investment.

The strategy also covers the many other parts of the nuclear industry that offer considerable opportunities for effective long-term collaboration between Government, industry and the research community. That includes handling waste management and decommissioning—already a significant area of industrial activity, which is managed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

It also includes fuel cycle services, waste management and decommissioning, operations and maintenance as well as establishing effective links between the research community and industry, which can help inform research priorities and identify opportunities for commercial spin-offs.

A new Nuclear Industry Council has been established to provide strategic oversight of the implementation of the strategy, and consists of a membership that reflects the diversity of the industry. The Government will work closely with the new council and ensure the strategy provides the basis for making a real impact of benefit to the UK.

A copy of the “Nuclear Industry Strategy”, and the other documents mentioned above, have been placed in the Library of the House.

1 Nuclear Industry Association Capability Report 2012

2 The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030, September 2012