This Commons Library briefing paper summarises current progress on nuclear power, including conventional reactors, advanced designs, waste disposal and nuclear research.Jump to full report >>
In September 2016, the Government gave the final go-ahead to Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear power station for a generation. In June 2018, the Government announced potential direct funding in a nuclear power plant at Wylfa, and, separately, a Nuclear Sector Deal as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, with £200 million for supporting the industry. However the collapse of private sector support for a new plant at Moorside in November 2018, and the suspension of the Hitachi project at Wylfa in January 2019, has cast doubt on the future of nuclear plants in the UK.
Successive Governments have supported the development of new nuclear as a reliable way of generating low carbon power, improving the UK’s energy security, and also, in the case of advanced reactors, having the potential to be used to reduce the UK’s spent fuel and plutonium stockpile problem.
The UK has 15 existing reactors, generating about 21% of its electricity, and 13 others are at various stages of the construction or planning process. The last Conservative Government also announced initiatives and funding for advanced reactors, including £250 million for development. The current Government has announced support for nuclear power in its Industrial Strategy as well as specific funding in areas such as nuclear fusion research and small modular reactors.
This paper summarises current progress on nuclear power, including conventional reactors, advanced designs, waste disposal and nuclear research.
This paper does not seek to provide a detailed analysis of the possible merits and limitations of nuclear as a power source. It also does not discuss other uses of nuclear such as nuclear weapons or medical uses of radioisotopes.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-8176
Author: Suzanna Hinson