The government has set out its roadmap for the biggest expansion of nuclear power in 70 years.
The intention of the expansion is to reduce reliance on overseas supplies and quadruple nuclear power supply by up to 24GW by 2050 with the new plant. However, critics have been quick to raise concerns about extensive delays and exceeded budgets for existing projects, such as Sizewell C, a £20bn plant in Suffolk expected to commence in 2024 with construction taking between nine and twelve years.
Facing similarly issues is Hinkley Point C. EDF has estimated that the cost of Britain’s first nuclear plant has rocketed to £33bn, up 30 per cent from 2015 with initial cost forecasts of between £25bn and £26bn.
The government announced its expansion plans on Thursday 11 January, pledging £300m to produce nuclear reactor fuel in a bid to lower bills and improve energy security. Presently, the leading candidates to house the government’s next nuclear projects are Wylfa, Anglesey or Moorside. This new station is expected to be “as big as” Hinkley C and Sizewell C.
A primary reason for the UK government’s backing of nuclear power is an ambition to become the first country in Europe to launch a high-tech nuclear fuel programme and push Putin out of the market. Presently, Russia is the only country commercially producing nuclear reactor fuel.
If successful, the UK’s bid to increase the rollout of homegrown small modular reactor technology could service up to a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs by 2050.