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Nuclear Energy in the UK: Prospects to 2030
Project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc (Energy and Resources), UCL School of Energy and Resources, Australia
In the foreseeable future, the energy sector in developed and developing countries is likely to operate under carbon-constraint conditions involving high fossil-fuel prices and market competition to encourage more effective ways of power production. To meet energy demands nuclear power may be considered as an alternative to the current carbon-intensive power plants. In addition, nuclear power may be favourable over renewable energy sources that remain unreliable based on their intermittent supply of energy. This thesis will discuss the potential dynamics of nuclear power as a share of the UK energy market and will cover nuclear power prospects to 2030 in the UK. The assessment shows that nuclear power in its current status is not capable of becoming a single-point solution for the energy needs of the country and competing solely on the UK energy market because of its capital intensity and the present structure of the energy market. However, with planned market reforms and low-carbon incentives (e.g., carbon floor price) new nuclear developments are likely to succeed as one of the options for energy generation. Within the current electricity network of the UK, nuclear power will assist in achieving low-carbon targets and provide sufficient supplies of base-load electricity to the UK energy market. Existing reactor designs (e.g., Generation III+) are likely to be considered taking advantage of the lessons learnt through similar projects in other countries. These reactors are more economical and sustainable as they provide an increased level of security and safety from earthquakes and unusual events. Public perception is a major challenge which may be overcome by conducting further work within communities through general public education programmes. Provided that sufficient attention is given by UK policymakers and educating the general public on the science of nuclear power, new nuclear power stations are likely to continue their presence in the UK energy mix by 2030 and beyond.