Making nuclear new build competitive
From Kirsty Gogan and Eric Ingersoll, London, UK
November 29, 2018
Jonathan Ford succinctly lays out the case that nuclear energy will be irrelevant to the UK climate response unless plant costs fall dramatically (“Capital costs must fall if nuclear power is not to cost the earth”, Inside Business, November 19). Fortunately, there is strong evidence that significant cost reductions are possible: outside Europe and the US, high quality nuclear plants are being delivered on time and at a third of the cost.
A recent study we completed for the UK’s Energy Technologies Institute, cited extensively in the recently published UK Nuclear Sector Deal, identifies how this is done: by fully designing units before ground is broken, thus minimising costly mid-course changes; building many units of the same design; a relentless focus on cost management; single point responsibility for project execution; and proper staffing and labour management.
Applying these common sense best practices, we found, could result in UK nuclear new build competitive with new gas plants. The UK government is taking up these recommendations and making them the basis of a renewed UK nuclear programme. If we are conscious and clever, nuclear energy can help save the earth without costing the earth.