The UK’s Nuclear Innovation & Research Advisory Board (Nirab) has recommended that the UK Government should consider investing up to GBP1 billion (USD1.3 billion) between 2021 and 2025 to boost the progress of innovation in the nuclear energy sector.
A new report, from the Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board (NIRAB) Clean Growth Through Innovation – the need for urgent action, provides an initial set of findings and recommendations to the UK Government.
Making a series of recommendations to strengthen the delivery and impact of the UK Government’s Nuclear Innovation Programme (NIP) as well as advising where innovation could drive down costs across the whole nuclear life-cycle. The report also identifies opportunities for greater collaboration with industry and international partners.
“It is clear from our work over the last year that there is need for urgent action. The nuclear industry in the UK must develop products that are cost competitive, attractive to investors, create economic value for the UK, and use best in class programme controls to ensure timely, cost effective delivery. International collaboration will be a key to success,” Nirab Chairman Mike Tynan said.
Kirsty Gogan, Chair of the NIRAB Cost Reduction Working Group said: “If nuclear is to remain relevant to solving climate change within meaningful timescales, and at an acceptable cost, then it must become investible by increasing cost and schedule certainty; reducing costs; and introducing efficiencies across the full nuclear lifecycle.”
“We therefore consider innovation in this context to be broader than technical; it encompasses all of the factors and processes that can lead to cost reduction and ultimately achieve market success. Examples are innovation in culture, financing, risk management, business models, contracting practices and regulation.”
In order to identify and prioritise where innovation can lead to cost reduction it is important to understand current challenges faced by the civil nuclear sector today. Three key characteristics of the sector which need to be overcome for cost reduction to be achieved are shown in Figure 7 (below), which in turn can be ‘flipped’ around to articulate what a successful high performing civil nuclear sector needs in place – the ‘enablers’. These are explored further in the report.