Response by the Memorandum submitted by
the Nuclear Industry Association
The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) is the
trade association and representative voice of Britain's civil
nuclear industry. It represents over 120 companies including the
operators of the nuclear power stations, those engaged in decommissioning,
waste management, nuclear liabilities management and all aspects
of the nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear equipment suppliers, engineering
and construction firms, nuclear research organisations, and legal,
financial and consultancy companies. Among NIA's members are the
principal nuclear power station operatorsas well as companies
engaged as contractors and manufacturers in the forefront of nuclear
We have confined our responses to the contribution
that nuclear can make to the reduction of carbon emissions from
transport. Given the large and expanding proportion of carbon
dioxide emissions that come from the transport sector it is vital
that action is taken to reduce emissions in this area and the
electricity sector in general and nuclear in particular have a
valuable role to play in this.
The most direct way in which the electricity
sector can help is in powering electric vehicles as the emissions
from the electricity used to power them are lower than those that
would be emitted by an equivalent sized petrol driven car. This
effect is enhanced if the low carbon proportion of the UK's electricity
generation is expanded.
The second area where nuclear has a role to
play in the development of the hydrogen economy. Hydrogen powered
vehicles in operation produce no emissions other than water, however
they only reduce carbon dioxide emissions if the hydrogen has
been produced by low carbon means. Most commercially available
hydrogen is produced by steam reformation of methane, an energy
intensive process which releases large quantities of carbon dioxide.
For the hydrogen economy to have any beneficial effect in reducing
the UK's carbon emissions from transport it must be made by carbon
free means, either by electrolysis or thermal processing of water.
Nuclear has the potential to help in both areas. If the electrolysis
route is taken then the UK's electricity consumption will rise
markedly and this expansion must be supplied from low carbon sources.
Nuclear provides high capacity continuous supply of electricity.
If a nuclear power station was connected to an electrolysis plant
it could supply electricity to the grid at peak demand times and
make hydrogen with the off peak electricity. In addition many
of the next generation of nuclear power plants have coolant temperatures
high enough to thermally split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Such a plant could cogenerate hydrogen and electricity simultaneously
in normal operation with no carbon emissions.
For these reasons we believe that the committee
should recognise the role that the low carbon electricity generating
sector can play in reducing carbon emissions from the UK's transport