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Energy Systems Catapult has just released the full report from the Energy Technologies Institute Nuclear Cost Drivers (ETI NCD) project by LucidCatalyst. This report demonstrates a credible path for nuclear energy to become a competitive Net Zero solution alongside renewables. 

September 3, 2020

This ETI NCD Full Technical Report is being published now as planned. The ETI NCD summary report, published in April 2018, was cited as the basis for achievable cost reduction in the UK Nuclear Sector Deal. The findings also informed the MIT Future of Nuclear Study (2018); the OECD-NEA’s Unlocking Reductions in the Construction Costs of Nuclear: A Practical Guide for Stakeholders (2020), and Energy System Catapult’s Nuclear for Net Zero (2020). 


The study provides evidence that an intentional and determined commitment to proven best practices around design standardisation combined with timely and effective programmatic sequencing – including building multiple units on a single site – can deliver highly cost-competitive nuclear new build. 


Global experience shows how commitment to a standardised nuclear program can sustain the learning curve and trigger a virtuous circle of economic performance as supply chain capabilities are developed, and perceived technological, project delivery, and financial risks fall. In addition, these technical and organisational improvements could accelerate the cost-effective deployment of more advanced nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors.


“The evidence-based study of historic, contemporary, and future nuclear power projects shows that there are a small number of understandable factors that drive the cost of nuclear plants. The analysis also highlights that there are several consistent characteristics shared amongst low cost plants and different common characteristics shared across high cost power plants. If understood and addressed, they can reduce the cost of new nuclear projects.

Low-carbon, low-cost new nuclear energy is achievable in the UK, through a sector-wide, integrated cost reduction programme that builds on global best practices. An effective cost reduction programme could also reduce the duration and risk of nuclear projects, changing the perception of nuclear construction risk and reducing financial costs.”


          –Mike Middleton, Practice Manager Nuclear, UK Energy Systems Catapult


“Achieving net zero across the whole economy by 2050 will be a Herculean effort. We therefore need to consider the effort required for an intentional cost reduction programme for nuclear energy in the context of the profound risk of failing to decarbonise in time, and the real challenges we face in achieving net zero.


This is why we need to apply the same determination and commitment to cost reduction for nuclear energy as we have demonstrated successfully for other technologies like offshore wind. The offshore wind industry programme has demonstrated how a determined commitment to cost reduction in exchange for continuous build and sustained access to finance is a successful formula that enables increased deployment, improved performance, and competitiveness. Our study shows that there is a credible path available to realise competitiveness and increased rates of deployment for nuclear energy also. In other words: nuclear doesn’t need to be expensive if we take the right approach.”

          –Eric Ingersoll, Managing Partner, LucidCatalyst


“The UK can, once again, take a leading global position in the construction and operation of large amounts of economic low-carbon, reliable power. 76% of the UK’s energy in 2019 came from fossil sources and all that has to be replaced to deliver Net Zero. The powerful work set out in this report shows that the UK absolutely can deliver a major contribution to that goal through nuclear power built to time and cost and what has to happen to make that a reality – all of which is entirely within our reach. There is no excuse now for policy makers and investors to doubt this can be achieved.” 

        –Tim Stone, Chairman, Nuclear Industry Association


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