Following the release of the UK Government’s new nuclear R&D ‘roadmap’ today, we thought we ought to release a brief statement outlining our views.
Incisive blogs from Mark Halper will follow over the next few days.
The Weinberg Foundation welcomes the release of the British Government’s long-awaited Review of nuclear research and development policy. We are pleased that the Government has recognised the need for greatly increased coordination between the UK’s academic, government and industrial nuclear researchers, and welcome the commitment to fund additional research facilities to support the leadership of the UK academic community.
However, whilst the Review does recognise nuclear power’s essential role in safeguarding our climate and energy security, we believe that the initiatives announced today must be only the first step towards a large-scale revival of the UK’s nuclear research and industrial base.
Many of the Government’s own Energy Pathway scenarios envisage that nuclear will supply 40-85% of UK electricity by 2050. So, the amount of nuclear power will at least double in the next three decades. The Government’s proposed funding of fission R&D is not commensurate with the scale of the task.
Failure to fund the research and development of at least 50% of the UK’s future energy supply is short-sighted. “Market-led” solutions to nuclear R&D are not enough. It is time for Government to take the lead.
We must make sure the UK utilises the safest, most efficient and most sustainable nuclear technology available. The UK has a unique opportunity to become the world-leader in the development of safer fuels such as thorium and more efficient next-generation reactors like the breakthrough Molten Salt Reactor. The Government must fund the research and development of next-generation nuclear power as a matter of urgency, in cooperation with industry, and with international partners if needed.
Lord Hanworth, Treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Thorium Energy, said: “While I welcome Ad Hoc Nuclear Research Board’s emphasis on the importance of increased nuclear fission research in the UK, it was disappointing that the report did not stress the vital importance of further research into thorium, a cleaner, safer nuclear fuel. Coupled with advanced reactor designs, such as the molten salt reactor, thorium could bring about a more sustainable era of nuclear power, and make a huge contribution to both our energy security and the fight against climate change.”
For further information please contact David Martin on david.martin[at]the-weinberg-foundation.org.
A PDF of this statement can be downloaded here.