All but one of Britain's existing nuclear energy stations are scheduled to close within the next eleven years if their lifetimes are not extended. The Government's indicative timeline for the first of a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain is for it to be built by 2019. Industry had set out plans to develop up to 16GW of nuclear power in the UK by 2025, but this outcome may now be in question following RWE and E.ON’s recent decision to withdraw from new nuclear investment.
This inquiry seeks to investigate the feasibility of delivering on this timetable and the potential barriers to delivering new nuclear power stations more generally. The Committee is aware of the significance of the electricity market reform process in determining the viability of investment in new nuclear power stations and does not intend to focus on this aspect in this inquiry.
A written briefing on the nuclear energy landscape in the UK, prepared by the National Audit Office, is published on the publications page of the Committee website.
Terms of reference
The Committee invited written evidence addressing the following questions:
- The Committee is aware of the significance of the electricity market reform process in determining the viability of investment in new nuclear power stations. What other factors contribute to investment decisions for new nuclear?
- What have been the political and policy impacts of the Fukushima incident?
- What lessons can be learnt for building new reactors to timetable and within budget from the experiences of France and Finland and elsewhere?
- What impact might global demand for nuclear power put on plans to build new nuclear power stations in Britain (there are currently 60 new nuclear power stations under construction worldwide and a further 150 planned)?
- Are there any other potential barriers to the construction of new nuclear power stations in the UK?
- Other than reforming the electricity market and planning process, what steps could the Government take to remove barriers to the delivery of new nuclear power stations in the UK?
- How feasible is the Government's indicative timeline, which shows the first new nuclear power station being built by 2019? And what level of nuclear capacity is likely to be available by 2025?
- What will be the consequences of failure to deliver a first new nuclear power station by 2019? Should any contingencies be put in place?
- What are the prospects for extending the life time of existing reactors?
The deadline for the submission of written evidence was Monday 2 July 2012.