Fulfilling the UK’s new nuclear ambitions could boost the economy by as much as GBP5 billion ($7.8 billion) and create more than 32,000 jobs per year, according to a report commissioned by nuclear developer EDF Energy.
The report, published Tuesday by the Institute for Public Policy Research, showed that if nuclear power alone met the UK’s goal of developing 18 GW of non-renewable capacity needed by 2025, UK GDP would be boosted by up to 0.34%/year, with an annual economic gain of GBP5.1 billion.
EDF Energy, which commissioned the report, has a vested interest in supporting the long-term success of the UK’s new nuclear ambitions, with plans to build four new nuclear plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk, with a combined capacity of 6.4 GW.
The IPPR report said: “If the Government makes a clear and credible long-term commitment to nuclear energy in the form of a long-term nuclear energy strategy, and if it has all-party support in doing so, then UK industry can be reasonably confident that there will be a steady stream of work and contracts in the future.”
The UK government has made provision for nuclear support in its controversial Contracts for Difference scheme, which is criticized by many as a “stealth-subsidy” to counter the otherwise uneconomic start-up costs and lengthy construction periods of new nuclear plants.
EDF Energy CEO Vincent De Rivaz told the UK energy and climate change select committee at its pre-legislative hearing on the Energy Bill that new nuclear build “must be cost-competitive with other low-carbon choices. The Contract for Difference will demonstrate this transparently. It is good for customers, policymakers and investors.”
Commenting on the IPPR report, Mark Prisk, a minister at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, shied away from outright support of nuclear generation specifically but acknowledged that the report offers a “compelling business case” for investment in the UK energy industry generally.
“New nuclear build is an important part of the diverse energy mix we need for the UK’s low-carbon future,” Prisk said.