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Awards 2024

UK nuclear power crashes to 40-year low in 2023

Hinkley Point C could meet the energy needs for six million homes

Power produced from nuclear stations in the UK sank to a 40-year low in 2023.

According to a Bloomberg report citing figures from the UK government and Electricite de France, output shrank from 37-terawatt hours in 2022 to below 40-terawatt hours in 2023 for the first time since the 1980s.

Nuclear power is a key feature in the government’s energy security strategy, with Downing Street aiming to ramp up generation from 6.9GW to 24GW before 2050 to reduce fossil fuel usage as well as reliance on overseas energy providers.

The UK generates around 15 per cent of its electricity from about 6.5 GW of nuclear capacity, spread across five active plants.

But with 85 per cent of its nuclear power output due to come offline before 2028, there is an urgent need to green light new projects.

So far, facilities that have been given the all-clear include Hinkley Point C – a full-scale 3.2GW power plant that could meet the energy needs for six million homes – which is set for completion in 2028, and a proposed, near-identical Sizewell C project that awaits a final investment decision (FID).

Small module reactors – factory-built, mobile reactors – are set to play their role in upping output as well. However, there have been no contracts handed out to a raft of bidders, including motor giant Rolls Royce.

The government is expected to publish a long-awaited nuclear strategy to get to 24GW capacity by 2050 this month after prolonged delays.

But this is expected to be a massively costly process. Aurora Energy Research estimates it could cost as much £150bn ($190bn).

Last month, campaigners lost a legal battle with the government to block the construction of another proposed nuclear site, Sizewell C.

Full Story: UK nuclear power crashes to 40-year low in 2023 (