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There are currently 9 operational reactors in the UK at 5 plants, which provide about 6.5 gigawatts (GW) of capacity. All but one of these plants are due to reach the end of their operating lives and be shut down before 2030. New reactors are proposed at different sites in the UK and are at different stages of development. Hinkley Point C is the only plant currently under construction, with an expected completion date between 2029 and 2031. Construction on Sizewell C in Suffolk is expected to begin in 2024, subject to a final investment decision (FID) and construction timelines.

The government has an ambition to increase nuclear capacity in the UK from around 6 GW to up to 24 GW by 2050, as set out in the British energy security strategy (April 2022).

In January 2024, the government published its Civil Nuclear: Roadmap to 2050 which sets out “the pathway to a UK resurgence in civil nuclear, covering both the long-term strategy and the near-term enabling policies we are pursuing.” Key commitments include:

  • Launching consultations on Alternative Routes to Market for New Nuclear Projects and a new approach to siting nuclear.
  • Publishing a Nuclear Skills Taskforce report alongside a Defence Nuclear Enterprise Command Paper, explaining how the government will “ensure our civil and military nuclear ambitions address shared challenges and opportunities”.
  • Completing the Great British Nuclear (GBN)-led Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology selection process, announcing which technologies will be supported to achieve FID by 2029.
  • Seeking to reach FID on Sizewell C (SZC) before the end of this Parliament.
  • Monitoring the construction of Reactor Units 1 and 2 at Hinkley Point C (HPC) by EDF Energy so that our first new nuclear project in a generation can come online later this decade.
  • Publishing a response to the government’s consultation on nuclear decommissioning and managing radioactive substances, including radioactive waste.
  • Exploring a further large-scale reactor project and setting out timelines and processes this Parliament, subject to a SZC FID.
  • Aiming to secure investment decisions to deliver 3-7GW every five years from 2030 to 2044, to meet our ambition to deploy up to 24GW of nuclear power by 2050.

The strategy was generally received positively by stakeholders in the nuclear industry. However, the Environmental Audit Committee published a letter raising concerns about the clarity of the government’s strategy on small modular reactors.

This briefing provides background and statistics on nuclear energy in the UK; a summary of the government’s Civil Nuclear Roadmap; and stakeholder commentary and Parliamentary material on the Roadmap.

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