Unveiling the UK’s Civil Nuclear Roadmap to 2050

On 11th January 2024, the UK Government published an important industry report – Civil Nuclear: Roadmap to 2050.  In it the Secretary of State for Energy Security & Net Zero outlines the nation’s path forward for one of the most essential components of its energy security strategy – nuclear power.

The civil nuclear roadmap fosters a future of innovation and growth for the industry, charting a clear course for nuclear energy to secure a prosperous and carbon free future.

In this article, we’ll reference key elements from the Government’s report.

Despite the construction of several nuclear power stations over past decades, just nine are still operational today across 5 sites. Fast forward many years, and construction is now firmly underway on Hinkley Point C, the UK’s first nuclear power station to be commissioned since 1995. With news hitting the media this week that EDF have broken ground on the construction of Sizewell C – the makes perfect timing for the publication of the report.

The Government’s roadmap targets a number of focus areas. The first, the re-emergence of nuclear energy as a key player in the UK’s energy sector. Ensuring a secure and resilient energy supply, the roadmap highlights the Government’s support for the continued construction and operation of large nuclear projects.

Next, the roadmap explores the realm of innovative nuclear technologies. In a global landscape, where the demand for nuclear power technology is projected to grow exponentially, the UK Government recognises the pressing need to support the industry in producing innovative nuclear power solutions. To this end, it continues to express support for developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs). Extensive work has already been undertaken to date to investigate the potential use of localised SMR and AMR alternatives in addition to larger power stations, and the report confirms the Government’s commitment to deploy SMR and large-scale nuclear power stations in parallel.

Another focal point is the role of the industry in facilitating a highly skilled and diverse workforce. In keeping with the ambitious 2050 target to increase nuclear capacity to 24 gigawatts, there will need to be considerable work to strengthen the domestic supply chain, whilst maintaining international opportunities – which is expected to create an increase in employment within the sector. Together with the combined commitment from multiple nations including the UK to triple global nuclear power by 2050, there’s never been a more important time to promote the many benefits of working in the nuclear sector.

With an ambitious plan to drive forward the UK’s civil nuclear industry, all eyes will be on the Government to report their progress. With this, the roadmap aims to not only provide direction but also hold stakeholders accountable, ensuring a steady movement towards the set objectives. The Government’s endorsement of the role of nuclear power in the race for net zero, underscores it’s intended investment in this strategically important industry.

The full report has been published on the Government’s website for members of the public and industry professionals, and is available to read here.

We’ll also be taking a deeper dive into the report and the Government’s civil nuclear roadmap to 2050 in the coming weeks.

NRL NDT | Non-Destructive Testing Services | Civil Nuclear