1. Around 19% of the UK's electricity generation
is from nuclear power.
However, all but one of our existing nuclear power stations are
currently expected to close by 2023. As a low-carbon source of
electricity, nuclear power could contribute towards the UK's long-term
climate change and energy security goals, but a new generation
of nuclear plant will be required to deliver this.
2. Although the Government does not set deployment
targets for particular types of electricity generation, The Department
of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has always supported the idea
of a "balanced mix" consisting of renewables, nuclear
and fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage (CCS) as the route
to delivering its energy and climate change policy aims.
3. A number of steps to help facilitate nuclear
new build in the UK have already been taken. These include the
introduction of the Generic Design Assessment process (see chapter
2) and changes to the planning system for nationally significant
infrastructure projects (including nuclear power stations). Most
notably, the Energy Billbefore Parliament at the time of
writingwill introduce a new system of long-term contracts
for low-carbon electricity generators, which are intended to bring
forward new investment in these projects.
4. The industry has set out plans to develop
up to 16GW of nuclear power in the UK by 2025. Our inquiry was
prompted by concerns that there may be barriers to delivering
such a programme in the UK. We sought to identify these and to
ascertain how they might be overcome.
Context of the inquiry
5. Shortly before we launched our inquiry, energy
companies E.ON and RWE npower announced that they would not be
proceeding with their plans to develop Horizon Nuclear Power.
This was a joint venture between the two companies with proposals
to build new reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire.
The sale of Horizon was on-going throughout most of our inquiry.
In late October 2012, it was announced that Horizon had been acquired
by Hitachi Ltd.
6. The UK European Pressurised Reactor (EPR)
designwhich EDF plans to use for its new build project
at Hinkley Point C in Somersetwas the first design to complete
the new Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process. It was granted
a Design Acceptance Confirmation in December 2012, shortly after
we finished taking evidence for our inquiry.
7. EDF were in negotiations with DECC about the
terms of the "Contract for Difference" that would be
offered to Hinkley Point C under the new market arrangements set
out in the Energy Bill. Although it was hoped that an agreement
would be reached by the end of 2012, at the time of writing, no
announcement has yet been made.
8. There was also a change of Minister of State
for Energy during our inquiry. We were fortunate to hear from
both Charles Hendry MP and John Hayes MP in the course of our
9. The National Audit Office provided a useful
scoping note, which helped us to formulate the terms of reference
for this inquiry. 
We are grateful for their input.
10. We received 34 submissions of written evidence
and held four oral evidence sessions. A full list of witnesses
can be found at the end of this report.
We are very grateful to all those who have contributed towards
this inquiry. We visited Bridgwater and the site for the proposed
new reactor at Hinkley Point C, where we met with representatives
from EDF, local councils and the local community. We also visited
the Energy Skills Centre at Bridgwater College. We would like
to express our thanks to all those who took the time to meet us
and to impart their first-hand knowledge of the opportunities
and challenges for building a new nuclear power station in the
11. We invited Centrica to give oral evidence
to our inquiry. However, they turned down our invitation without
offering an explanation. We note that on 4 February 2013, Centrica
announced its decision not proceed with new nuclear investment
in power stations at Hinkley Point and Sizewell.
12. Dealing with nuclear waste is a complex subject.
Given the limited time available in our inquiry programme, we
were not able to look at this issue in any detail. Indeed, it
would not be possible for us to address this important topic adequately
without holding a dedicated inquiry into nuclear waste. We received
several submissions stating that new nuclear should not go ahead
until questions relating to long-term storage of nuclear waste
and sea discharged radioactive waste have been resolved.
After we had finished taking evidence, Cumbria County Council
voted to withdraw from the process to find a host community for
an underground radioactive waste disposal facility. As the last
remaining Council taking part in this process, the question of
long-term storage is now even more relevant than when we initiated
1 DECC, Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2012, July 2012 Back
See, for example, DECC, Electricity Market Reform: policy overview
Cm 8498, November 2012, para 16 - 17 Back
"Ministers welcome Hitachi new nuclear investment programme",
DECC press release 2012/135, 30 October 2012 Back
"UK regulators confirm acceptance of new nuclear reactor
design" Office for Nuclear Regulation press release, 13 December
NAO, The nuclear energy landscape in Great Britain, April 2012 Back
Page 43 Back
"Centrica announces decision not to participate in UK nuclear
new build and launches £500 million share repurchase programme",
Centrica press notice, 4 February 2013 Back
Ev w7, Ev w39 Back
"Energy Secretary responds to Cumbria nuclear waste vote"
DECC press notice 13/010, 30 January 2013 Back