Prime minister Rishi Sunak says proposal is biggest expansion of energy source in 70 years

The government has today outlined that it is exploring plans to build a new nuclear power plant that is as big as Hinkley Point C, in what it has referred to as the “biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years”.

The proposed “gigawatt-scale” power plant would be the same size as those at Sizewell C in Suffolk and Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which are capable of powering six million homes each.

The nuclear expansion plans are part of the government’s commitment to increasing nuclear power generation to 24GW by 2050, which it said was “enough to provide a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs”.

hinkley 1

Source: EDF

More than 10,000 workers are working on Hinkley Point C

The government has also announced that it will invest up to £300m in UK production of the fuel required to power high-tech new nuclear reactors, known as HALEU, currently only commercially produced in Russia.

>> See also: Government and EDF after private investment into Sizewell C nuclear scheme

>> See also: Great British Nuclear launches competition to develop UK’s first mini-reactors

This will make the UK the first country in Europe to launch a HALEU programme, which will be led from its North West production hub.

The roadmap, which aims to give “industry certainty on the future direction of the UK’s ambitious nuclear programme” has also committed an additional £10m to develop the skills and sites needed to produce other advanced nuclear fuels in the UK, helping to secure long-term domestic nuclear fuel supply.

It also includes a government ambition to secure three to seven gigawatts-worth of investment decisions every five years from 2030 to 2044 on new nuclear projects.

Great British Nuclear, the government nuclear energy and fuels company launched last year, will lead on the development of the UK’s small modular reactor industry.

Rishi Sunak, said: “Nuclear is the perfect antidote to the energy challenges facing Britain - it’s green, cheaper in the long term and will ensure the UK’s energy security for the long-term.

“This is the right long-term decision and is the next step in our commitment to nuclear power, which puts us on course to achieve net zero by 2050 in a measured and sustainable way.

“This will ensure our future energy security and create the jobs and skills we need to level up the country and grow our economy.”

Alan Sinclair, director, UK head of natural resources at Turner & Townsend, said: “The Civil Nuclear Roadmap is a welcome reassertion of Government’s commitment to Great British Nuclear announced last summer and to increasing the UK’s nuclear power generation four-fold by 2050. Delivering this growth in capacity will clearly be an immense task and will take private investment as well as the public funding already laid out. A consistent direction of travel is fundamental to providing investors with the confidence to back programmes across the sector.

“A clear, stable pipeline of work will also be crucial to building the specialist skills and supply chain needed for the scale and complexity of nuclear power projects. As we head towards a general election, we need Government to maintain this steady course – regardless of the outcome at the ballot boxes.”