UK Modelling Report 'Decouples Energy from Emissions'

World Nuclear News

21 June 2021


Diverse, scalable and low-cost applications for nuclear technologies have for the first time been fully represented across the whole energy system in a new modelling report published last week by the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). The work, which was completed through the Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme (AFCP), reveals potential routes to de-risk and lower the cost of achieving net zero. AFCP is led by NNL in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as part of the GBP505 million (USD702 million) Energy Innovation Programme.

The modelling, which was conducted with independent specialists from Energy Systems Catapult and LucidCatalyst, includes the role of nuclear in providing not only electricity but also heat, hydrogen and synthetic fuels. It adds to the national and international dataset that considers pathways to decarbonisation, and has already been used to underpin AFCP's net-zero roadmap, which will be published later this year.


"To enable the deep decarbonisation that is required to meet net zero, it is clear that we need to completely and utterly transform the totality of our energy system," Fiona Rayment, NNL's chief science and technology officer, said. "The challenge our sector needs to overcome is not technical, but economic; by co-generating zero-carbon electricity with a new supply of green hydrogen, fuels and heat, nuclear can make a vital, and commercially viable, contribution to the UK’s future energy mix."


The analysis shows that to meet net zero, the UK needs to vastly increase the production of three zero-carbon energy vectors - electricity, hydrogen and district heating, Scott Milne, head of insights at Energy Systems Catapult, said.


"The modelling explores the cost and performance parameters that would need to be achieved by a range of nuclear technologies in order to contribute - alongside renewables and carbon, capture & storage - to the rapid scale-up of those three energy vectors," he said. "Our analysis shows how nuclear can help to minimise the overall physical footprint of the energy system and contribute to achieving net zero at least cost to society."


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