The Government has launched a £200 million plan aimed at driving down the costs of nuclear energy, develop new technologies and encourage more women to work in the industry.
Ministers said a so-called Nuclear Sector Deal would secure the UK’s diverse energy mix and lead to cheaper energy bills.
The initiative includes £32 million from Government and industry to kick-start new advanced manufacturing programmes including research and development investment to develop potential
world-leading nuclear technologies like Advanced Modular Reactors.
The Government also committed to increasing gender diversity in the civil nuclear workforce with a target of 40% women by 2030.
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK is the home of civil nuclear technology and with this investment in innovation and our commitment to increasing diversity in an already highly skilled workforce, I want to ensure we remain the world leader.
“Nuclear energy not only fuels our power supply, it fuels local jobs, wages, economic prosperity and drives UK innovation.
“This Sector Deal marks an important moment for the Government and industry to work collectively to deliver the modern Industrial Strategy, drive clean growth and ensure civil nuclear remains an important part of the UK’s energy future.”
Co-chairman of the Nuclear Industry Council, Lord Hutton said: “The industry wants nuclear energy to remain competitive against other forms of low-carbon energy which is why we are committed to working with Government to reduce costs across the sector.
“Today’s funding boost will support this common goal, increasing the UK’s industrial capabilities as well as signalling our global leadership in nuclear to the rest of the world.”
Measures include a new partnership with the Welsh Government to develop a £40 million thermal hydraulics facility in North Wales as part of the Nuclear Innovation Programme to support the design and development of advanced nuclear technologies.
A commitment was also made from industry to reduce the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30% by 2030, and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% by 2030.
Sue Ferns, deputy general secretary of the Prospect union, said: “For too long unions, industry, and sometimes even individual workers have had to make the case for the future of the nuclear industry without substantial support from government.
“The sector deal, which has been a long time in coming, must signal an end to that approach and trigger a new willingness from government to take an active role alongside industry and unions in investing in both the next generation of power plants and the emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the energy landscape.”
Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive of Horizon Nuclear Power, said: “We’re delighted to welcome this Nuclear Sector Deal.
“It’s a clear demonstration of how government and industry will work together to ensure nuclear continues to play a crucial role in providing clean, secure power for the UK, as well as delivering jobs, skills and investment across the country.”