Materials Discovery for Energy and Chemicals Decarbonisation

Report | Dalton Nuclear Institute

Nuclear energy for net zero: a strategy for action

Nuclear experts at The University of Manchester have developed a roadmap detailing the eight key actions required to assess the role of nuclear energy in the UK’s net zero future objectively.

The 41-page position paper entitled Nuclear energy for net zero: a strategy for action, sets out the steps needed to examine the possible roles for nuclear energy using an objective, well-developed economic assessment system.

Authored by the senior leadership team at The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, home to the largest and most advanced nuclear research capability in the UK, the paper considers nuclear in the context of the net zero challenge, in supporting the UK’s hydrogen ambitions and in delivering economic growth, through industrial development, jobs and in supporting the levelling up agenda.

It determines what policymakers and industry need to explore in order to take an informed decision based on a ‘best economics’ basis. This includes the development of advisory bodies, non-partisan modelling of the economic path, and the optimisation of R&D programmes.

Professor Francis Livens, director of The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute explains:

“Net zero by 2050 is such a massive challenge for this country that it is really all hands to the pumps. The reality is we need to explore all these options and evaluate them on a level playing field and come to an objective decision about ‘does nuclear have a part to play in our energy future or not? Either way the UK needs to move fast to resolve this question and take any opportunity that is there. If it continues to prevaricate, any opportunity will certainly be lost.”

Co-author Professor Gregg Butler continues:

“We have developed this paper because we felt a responsibility as an impartial academic community to support our colleagues in government and industry. The UK has set a world–leading net zero target. But simply setting the target is not enough – we need to achieve it. Now is the time to take key actions which will determine the roles nuclear can play, recognising that they should only be adopted if they contribute to an optimised economic and environmental solution. We might know a lot about nuclear energy – but it’s got to be viewed as a candidate for helping to reach net zero – not as an end in itself.”

The paper has been co-authored by Dr William Bodel, Prof Gregg Butler and Prof Juan Matthews. Read Nuclear energy for net zero: a strategy for action here.

Professor Francis Livens is Director of The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute and Royce Research Area Lead for Nuclear Materials

Dalton Nuclear Institute at The University of Manchester is a world-leading cross-disciplinary nuclear research institute, providing research across the whole fuel cycle, delivering impact to industry, governments and regulators, and supporting the UK’s long term nuclear ambition.

Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons – examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

See the full report here: Nuclear energy for net zero: a strategy for action