The UK has a long history of civil nuclear power dating back to 1956 when the first commercial reactor was commissioned. Today the UK has 10 nuclear power stations, with 19 reactors in total, providing around 18% of the electricity consumed in the UK and 6% of total UK primary energy supplies.
The Government believes nuclear energy should continue to be part of the UK’s energy mix and is committed to replacing the current ageing nuclear fleet through facilitative actions including regulatory framework and licensing.
On this page you can find out more about the UKs nuclear strengths, our programme of new builds, the decommissioning program for older reactors and how R&D and new skills programs are supporting the industry.
The UK nuclear industry currently employs 44,000 people
The UK nuclear industry should generate 30,000 jobs by 2025
UK nuclear strengths
The full nuclear fuel cycle (outside mining) is represented
Excellence particularly in general construction works (civil engineering, M&E), construction of radioactive waste facilities, fabrication of smaller nuclear specific components, fuel fabrication, materials performance, design validation, inspection validation and inspection
Experience from design, construction and operation of submarine reactors
The UK government has confirmed that there is a significant role for nuclear in the future energy mix for the UK due to security of supply needs and ambitious CO2 emissions reduction targets. Plans are already in place for plant delivering 6.4GW at EdF’s Hinkley Point and Sizewell sites, at least 6GW at Wylfa and Oldbury sites owned by Horizon Nuclear Power and 3.6GW at Sellafield through NuGeneration. In all 16GW of new nuclear capacity is planned for the UK. This represents an estimated £40bn investment.
There are numerous opportunities in the UK’s supply chain suitable for overseas investment. Examples include reactor pressure vessels, induction bending of large diameter thick walled pipes and turbine generators.
All of the existing nuclear power stations (with the exception of Sizewell B) are scheduled to close by 2025. £8.62bn will eventually be spent on decommissioning over the next 4 years: Hinkley A, Hunterston B, Heysham 1 and Hartlepool are scheduled for closure from 2014 onwards. In the UK nuclear waste legacy is the government’s responsibility and in the future waste management will be built into new power plant costs. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is responsible for managing decommissioning activities, including waste disposal and storage, and plans for a geological disposal site are moving forward.
Government sponsored Research and Development
The UK is a significant global player in respect of nuclear research and development. Government sponsored centres of excellence include the following:
The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) which is a government-owned nuclear services technology provider across 6 UK locations.
Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (N-AMRC) led by the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester.
NW Nuclear Decommissioning Research Centre in Cumbria
Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE)
HiPER – Laser Fusion activity at RAL Harwell
Private nuclear R&D is also carried out at SERCO, AMEC, EDF R&D and Nuvia (part of Vinci).
Academic Research and Development
There are also a number of UK academic institutions with nuclear expertise, most notably but not exhaustively:
The Dalton Institute at Manchester University which is by far the largest centre covering all aspects of the sector
The Imperial College Centre for Nuclear Engineering
The University of Sheffield with work on decommissioning and the Immobilisation Science Laboratory
The University of Leeds Centre of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering
Cardiff University, a designated Centre of Excellence by the International Atomic Energy Agency for deep geological disposal of nuclear waste studies.
These universities, along with the Research Council’s Energy Programme and other UK universities, are involved in a number of research programmes, including DIAMOND (Decommissioning, Immobilisation and Management of Nuclear waste for Disposal) and KNOO (Keeping the Nuclear Option Open). The University of Manchester also leads on the SPRing programme (Sustainability Assessment of Nuclear Power), which brings together international academic institutions, government and the private sector.
Nuclear Skills in the workforce
A strong skills initiative to train the future workforce and meet industry needs is being deployed. A number of organisations play a key role in this, including Nuclear Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN), Cogent, and the NDA-funded Community Apprenticeship Scheme (CAS). Between them they cover programmes to help recruit more workers, upskill workers to meet nuclear standards, and provide intelligence on future skill needs. Manufacturing and construction skills organisations are also relevant to the nuclear industry: Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (N-AMRC), SEMTA, The Construction Industry Training Board, and The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board.
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Countries: United Kingdom