Building New Nuclear: The Challenges Ahead

27 April 2012

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.

The Committee will hear evidence at 10.15 am on 15 May 2012 from:

• Volker Beckers, Group Chief Executive Officer, RWE npower, and Dr Tony Cocker, Chief Executive, EON UK; and
• Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State , Department of Energy and Climate Change (at 11.15 am).

The Committee invites submissions of written evidence relating to the terms of reference set out below, and will hold further evidence sessions as part of this inquiry later in the year.

A written briefing on the nuclear energy landscape in the UK, prepared by the National Audit Office, is published on the publications page (PDF 1.4MB) of the Committee website. 


Terms of reference

The Committee invites written evidence from interested parties addressing some or all of 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 is Monday 2 July 2012.


Notes on submitting evidence

Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format-please do not use PDF format-and sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from. Hard copy submissions should be sent to: The Clerk, Energy and Climate Change Committee, 7 Millbank, London, SW1P 3JA. The deadline is Monday 2 July 2012. As a guideline submissions should be no longer than 3000 words. However, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this matter.

Submissions should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

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