My Civil Nuclear Roadmap Debate

On Thursday 22 February I organised a debate in the House of Commons focused on the future of nuclear energy in the UK, and in particular the important role that can be played by sites like Dungeness as locations for investment in new nuclear technologies. This is probably the biggest moment for the civil nuclear industry in the UK for at least 50 years. The Government have set a very important and ambitious target of an extra 24 GW of nuclear energy into the grid by 2050. It will require a huge feat of civil engineering to create the facilities required to deliver that target. We will do that to reduce our reliance on imported oil and gas, increase clean sources of energy for electricity, whilst recognising that other changes in technology are creating enormous demands for new energy. The impact of artificial intelligence, for example, on energy demand will be very significant. It has been estimated that the amount of electricity just to power AI in the world by 2027 will require the equivalent amount of electricity to supply a country the size of The Netherlands.

The government’s Civil Nuclear Roadmap was published in January and sets out how we will meet this new demand and also identify the sites that are best suited as locations for new power stations. The advent of advanced nuclear technologies and small modular reactors is the biggest change since the creation of the current list of approved new nuclear sites in 2011. The smaller footprint of these new facilities give us more flexibility in how and where these technologies can be deployed, and this could particularly benefit locations like Dungeness. It is particularly exciting to see British firms such as Rolls-Royce leading the development and design of new small modular reactor technologies. While the Government have their competition to identify best technologies to invest in, we need to look not just at the unit price of that technology, but at the wider impact and benefit to the UK economy of investing in it, in particular the modular reactors that can be factory built and assembled. They can be designed not just to meet our energy demand, but could also be an export industry for the future for the UK.

The government is currently consulting on the Civil Nuclear Roadmap, and acknowledges upfront that if it is to meet its target for additional power from nuclear energy it is going to need more sites to be identified where these facilities can be built. It would make sense for existing nuclear sites like Dungeness to be in the front line for that investment. My request to the government in the debate was that where locations, like Dungeness, would be highly suitable for small modular reactors and other advanced technologies, this should be reflected in the review of sites. It is no longer the case that one size fits all, and just because a very large reactor, of the kind being built for Hinkley Point in Somerset, might not fit at Dungeness, other new technologies will. We have the existing grid infrastructure and are in an area of high energy demand. It is now time to make the commitment to the future of nuclear energy on Romney Marsh.

Published Friday 23 February 2024

Copyright 2024 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Dylan Jeffrey on behalf of Damian Collins, both of FHCA, 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1SP.


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