Nuclear essential for UK energy future, chief adviser says

As Britain published its nuclear energy strategy paper on March 26, the government’s chief science adviser said a nuclear-free future was not an option for the UK.

Nuclear power is essential for Britain’s energy future, said science adviser John Beddington, the Guardian reports.

“We really can’t see a future for the UK energy sector,” he said, “if we are to meet our climate change obligations and have resilience in the power sector, without a significant component of nuclear. A non-nuclear scenario is not one the government is thinking seriously about.”

Beddington oversaw work on the nuclear strategy paper, which included ambitious goals for growth in the nuclear sector and research into pioneering nuclear technologies. The strategy calls for, among other proposals: Funding up to 15 million pounds ($22.7 million) for research and development on nuclear technology plus millions more invested through various competitions, public-private partnerships and  investments in a small modular reactor program; 12.5 million pounds ($18.9 million) for the Jules Horowitz Test Reactor program for research into advanced nuclear fuels; reorganizing the National Nuclear Laboratory, making it more central to advising the government on nuclear matters; and cultivating both investment and export opportunities within the export sector. The report foresees creating up to 40,000 new jobs in the nuclear sector at peak development but warns against the current shortage of skilled labor in the sector.

According to the Guardian, under the government plan nuclear power could provide up to 86 percent of the UK’s electricity by 2050.

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