The UK government is taking a significant step towards boosting its electricity generation from nuclear energy with the launch of Great British Nuclear (GBN).

This new body will play a crucial role in achieving the government's commitment to generating a quarter of the country's electricity from nuclear sources by 2050. To support this initiative, the government has announced £157 million in grants.

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps highlighted the importance of GBN, emphasising its role in rapidly expanding nuclear power plants across the UK. The aim is to enhance energy security and reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports.

One of the key aspects of this endeavour is the focus on small modular reactors (SMRs) through a competition that is expected to attract billions of pounds in investment. The government believes that SMRs can be built quicker and at a lower cost compared to traditional large nuclear power plants.

However, this approach has faced criticism from environmental campaigners and academics who argue that SMRs lack a proven track record. They contend that investments should be directed towards renewable energy sources like offshore wind instead. Despite these concerns, the government remains committed to conventional large reactors such as the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset and Sizewell C, a nuclear power plant in Suffolk.

Alongside the competition launch, Shapps announced the availability of up to £157 million in grant funding. This includes £77 million to accelerate the development of a nuclear business in the UK and support new designs, as well as an additional £58 million for the development and design of a new advanced modular reactor operating at higher temperatures.

Grant Shapps expressed pride in reviving the UK's nuclear power legacy, aiming to secure a clean, reliable, and abundant energy supply that will reduce energy costs for British homes and decrease reliance on foreign energy sources.

However, critics like Dr. Doug Parr, the chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, argue that the government is overly fixated on nuclear power and question the feasibility of SMRs, citing potential cost overruns and delays. They believe that the focus should be on achieving net-zero through renewables and energy efficiency measures.

Despite the controversy, the UK government is pressing ahead with its plans to make nuclear power a significant part of its energy future. The launch of Great British Nuclear and the competition for SMRs represent the country's ambition to be at the forefront of global innovation in the nuclear energy sector.

While the debate between nuclear and renewables continues, the coming months will see which companies emerge as winners of the SMR competition. Only time will tell if this significant investment in nuclear power will pave the way for a sustainable and low-carbon energy future for the UK.

Reference: www.theguardian.com "Shapps announces £157m in grants at launch of new UK nuclear body"


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