Nuclear experts at the University of Manchester have created a roadmap comprised of the actions needed to evaluate the role of nuclear energy in the UK’s net zero future.
The nuclear energy roadmap, published in a paper entitled ‘Nuclear energy for net zero: a strategy for action,’ has been authored by the senior leadership team at the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, which houses the most advanced nuclear research capability in the UK.
It lays out the eight key actions required in assessing the possible role of nuclear energy in the UK’s clean energy transition. The research paper contemplates the role of nuclear energy in the context of the net zero challenge, in helping to facilitate the UK’s hydrogen aspirations and in providing economic growth, through industrial development, jobs and in supporting the levelling up agenda.
The paper establishes the actions policymakers and industry need to investigate in order to take an informed decision based on a ‘best economics’ basis, such as the creation of advisory bodies, non-partisan modelling of the economic path, and the optimisation of R&D programmes.
Professor Francis Livens, director of The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute explained: “Net zero by 2050 is such a massive challenge for this country that it is really all hands to the pumps. The reality is we need to explore all these options and evaluate them on a level playing field and come to an objective decision about ‘does nuclear have a part to play in our energy future or not?’.
“Either way the UK needs to move fast to resolve this question and take any opportunity that is there. If it continues to prevaricate, any opportunity will certainly be lost.”
Co-author Professor Gregg Butler added: “We have developed this paper because we felt a responsibility as an impartial academic community to support our colleagues in government and industry. The UK has set a world–leading net zero target. But simply setting the target is not enough – we need to achieve it. Now is the time to take key actions which will determine the roles nuclear can play, recognising that they should only be adopted if they contribute to an optimised economic and environmental solution.
“We might know a lot about nuclear energy – but it’s got to be viewed as a candidate for helping to reach net zero – not as an end in itself.”