World Nuclear Association response to the Committee on Climate Change 'Net Zero' report

Issued 2 May 2019

The Committee on Climate Change , the independent body set up to advise the UK government on climate change emissions targets has laid out a set of proposals to enable the UK to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In their report the committee state that the share of electricity generated by renewables and firm low-carbon power, such as nuclear would need to rise from around 50% today to around 95% in 2050. Demand for electricity overall would increase due to additional demand from electric vehicles and heat pumps. The report says that 'renewable generation could be four times today’s levels, requiring a sustained and increased build out between now and 2050, complemented by firm low-carbon power options such as nuclear power and CCS (applied to biomass or gas-fired ).'

The CCC’s recommendation came shortly after France also proposed carbon-neutrality for 2050 which included plans to operated its existing nuclear reactors longer than previously scheduled.

Agneta Rising, Director General, World Nuclear Association, commented, “It's clear that we will need to make use of all options to tackle climate change effectively; without increased nuclear we will fail. The UK and France should take advantage of their nuclear experience. More and more countries looking at implementing long-term climate change goals are including nuclear energy. Experienced nuclear countries should build more and faster."

The CCC’s base case foresees gas-fired generation with carbon capture and storage (CCS) generating more than 20% of electricity in 2050. However, electricity generation combined with CCS is a largely untested technology. The report notes that additional nuclear generation would be one option to replace some of the gas CCS, a further 15GW of nuclear capacity could be built at existing identified sites.

Agneta Rising said, “Nuclear generation is a proven solution for secure and reliable low-carbon generation that can be deployed at scale.”

The report notes that there is potential for the costs of new nuclear generation could be significantly reduced with the right policies and measures. Nuclear generation costs in 2050 are projected to be potentially 28% lower than those for 2025, the largest reduction for any of the main low carbon generation options.

Agneta Rising commented, “The CCC is right to highlight that to deliver this there needs to be better financing arrangements and policy support for more nuclear deployment, which will increase scope for cost reductions through innovation and learning-by-doing.”

Notes To Editors

The Committee on Climate Change report is available here.

World Nuclear Association is the international organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business.

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