A report has been released which suggests the Government should review nuclear approval process to cut costs and speed development, it also calls for greater support from the Government in nuclear skills. The Government should implement an independent review of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process, necessary for the approval of any nuclear reactor in the UK, to ensure that costs are not unnecessarily added and to enable the faster approval of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), according to the report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
The report, “Nuclear Power: A Future Pathway for the UK”, follows Government announcements last week on its support for the next generation of nuclear technologies. Among the key actions the Institution’s report identifies is the need for Government to add nuclear construction skills to the shortage occupation list― which would allow experienced workers from oversees to enter the UK; the need for a new Strategic Siting Assessment to identify new potential nuclear sites beyond 2025, including sites for SMRs and; support for the development of the Modular Construction Park, planned for the River Mersey.
Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Lead Author of the report, said: “The delays and escalating costs of the Hinkley Point C project, has provoked a public backlash in recent years against nuclear power. Yet as a reliable and relatively low carbon source of electricity, it makes sense for nuclear to form a greater part of the UK’s future energy mix, reducing our reliance on coal and gas.
“The key challenge is to reduce costs and delays, which is why the Institution is proposing that Government commissions an independent review of the GDA process to ensure that unnecessary costs are not incurred and to make it easier to approve SMRs.
“SMRs present a lower cost option, with comparatively straightforward construction and, potentially, a more attractive investment proposition than conventional larger scale nuclear plants.
“It is also vital that as the UK prepares to leave the European Union that nuclear construction skills are added to the shortage occupation list ― which would allow experienced workers from oversees to enter the UK.”
The report makes the following recommendations:
1. The ‘Nuclear Pathway’ should be enabled through commitment to three objectives:
2. Action needs to be taken to remove three ‘road-blocks’:
3. The key facilitating actions are: