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UK: Ten new nuclear power stations

The UK will build 10 new nuclear power stations by 2025, the government said last month. The new facilities will have a combined capacity of about 16 gigawatts (GW), up from present nuclear generating capacity of around 11 GW – most of which is due to shut down over the next 10 years (see Table 1).

The new fleet is expected to meet about 25% of the country's projected electricity demand in 2025 – a little under the highest nuclear contribution achieved in the past, in 1998, when nuclear-generated electricity accounted for 29% of the total. Last year, according to the government's Department of Energy and Climate Change, nuclear facilities covered 14% of demand, but the figure is projected to fall to 8% by 2018 as existing units close.

All 10 power stations will be built at or close to existing nuclear sites. Three will be in Cumbria, on the northwest coast, at Braystones (nominated by RWE), Sellafield (nominated by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, NDA) and Kirksanton (nominated by RWE). South of these there will be units at Heysham in Lancashire (EdF) and Wylfa on Anglesey (NDA and RWE), with two units on the Severn estuary at Oldbury in Gloucestershire (NDA and E.On) and Hinkley Point in Somerset (EdF). On the east coast, there will be facilities at Hartlepool in County Durham (EdF), Sizewell in Suffolk (EdF) and Bradwell in Essex (NDA).

When naming the sites, the government also announced that planning procedures will be speeded-up with the creation of an Infrastructure Planning Commission. The public inquiry for the newest existing nuclear facility, Sizewell B, ran for six years, but the new procedure is designed to reach a decision in under a year. The government wants the first of the new fleet to start up in 2018.

The construction of new coal-fired power stations will also be encouraged, but promoters will have to "demonstrate the full carbon capture and storage (CCS) chain from the outset on at least 300 megawatts net of their total output" (see p28). A new CCS initiative will fund the construction of up to four commercial-scale CCS units, which operators will be expected to expand to cover their full capacity by 2025.

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