Clean growth through innovation – the need for urgent action
The UK’s Nuclear Innovation & Research Advisory Board (Nirab) has recommended that the UK Government should consider investing up to GBP1 billion (USD1.3 billion) between 2021 and 2025 to boost the progress of innovation in the nuclear energy sector.
A new report, from the Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) Clean Growth Through Innovation – the need for urgent action, provides an initial set of findings and recommendations to the UK Government.
Making a series of recommendations to strengthen the delivery and impact of the UK Government’s Nuclear Innovation Programme (NIP) as well as advising where innovation could drive down costs across the whole nuclear life-cycle. The report also identifies opportunities for greater collaboration with industry and international partners.
“It is clear from our work over the last year that there is need for urgent action. The nuclear industry in the UK must develop products that are cost competitive, attractive to investors, create economic value for the UK, and use best in class programme controls to ensure timely, cost effective delivery. International collaboration will be a key to success,” Nirab Chairman Mike Tynan said.
Kirsty Gogan, Chair of the NIRAB Cost Reduction Working Group said: “If nuclear is to remain relevant to solving climate change within meaningful timescales, and at an acceptable cost, then it must become investible by increasing cost and schedule certainty; reducing costs; and introducing efficiencies across the full nuclear lifecycle.”
“We therefore consider innovation in this context to be broader than technical; it encompasses all of the factors and processes that can lead to cost reduction and ultimately achieve market success. Examples are innovation in culture, financing, risk management, business models, contracting practices and regulation.”
This is the first report summarising the work undertaken by the UK Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) since it was reconvened in 2018. The report provides an initial set of findings and recommendations to Government in response to questions it posed NIRAB:
– To monitor the delivery and impact of the UK Government’s Nuclear Innovation Programme and recommend any amendments that may be necessary in the light of outputs from the programme and developments in the nuclear landscape.
– To advise where innovation could drive down costs across the whole nuclear life-cycle
– To identify opportunities for greater collaboration with industry and international partners.
The work to date has yielded some strong recommendations for Government to consider regarding future nuclear energy research and innovation. Foremost is the need for urgent action to accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies that can broaden the role nuclear energy can play in decarbonisation across all energy sectors. Government has an enabling role to play in facilitating the private sector to bring forward technologies and commercial products. NIRAB recommend that BEIS implement the remainder of the current £180 million investment in the Nuclear Innovation Programme as planned – this is already having a significant impact. In addition, from an initial assessment by NIRAB and NIRO, it is recommended that over the next five year spending review period (from 2021), to accelerate innovation, Government should consider investing up to £1 billion; made up of in the region of £300 million to continue to develop cutting edge skills, and enable appropriate UK supply chain capability and capacity; plus in the region of £700 million in providing the infrastructure and cost-sharing incentives for industry to develop and construct Advanced Nuclear Technology demonstrators. In return Government should expect significant private sector leveraged investment.
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