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18 May 2021
The UK Government has signalled its commitment to delivering on its ‘Levelling Up’ ambitions after it confirmed that it will publish a milestone white paper which will outline several policy interventions to reduce regional economic inequalities across the country as the UK recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This forthcoming white paper was reiterated in the Queen’s Speech, opening the 2021-2022 parliamentary session, and this further emphasises the Government’s ambition to improve livelihoods and opportunity for all parts of the UK, through the ‘levelling up’ of the regions.
To make levelling up a success, the Government needs to lay out solid plans for new and existing infrastructure and local supply chains, which will sustain well-paid jobs and wealth creation for local communities. We believe that low-carbon nuclear power is well placed to be part of these plans, and in particular, advanced modular reactors (AMRs).
One way in which these innovative and exciting technologies can galvanise meaningful change is to help to decarbonise heavy and energy intensive industries, many of which are currently based in the parts of the UK that the Government wants to level up.
For example, foundation industries (metals, ceramics, paper, glass, chemicals and cement) already provide significant opportunities for regional economies in terms of jobs, wealth and exports. These industries will need to decarbonise their operations for the UK to meet net-zero, while continuing to invest in their businesses, workforces and communities. Without the right solution, it will be difficult for them to sustain their operations in the UK, as we push on to achieving net-zero by 2050.
Low-carbon solutions like U-Battery, however, can support these types of industries by producing the high-heats and power required to sustainably decarbonise industrial operations and reduce their cost of energy. This solution is the type of foundation on which levelling up could be built upon, by both sustaining existing industries and creating the environment in which new industries could be developed.
It is not just in the decarbonisation of existing industries that AMRs can make a positive impact. AMRs are by their very nature exportable technologies. A new manufacturing base in the north west, taking advantage of this region’s existing nuclear skills base and supply chain, could create new opportunities for this part of the UK. The global market for these types of AMR design is considerable and this could be a major opportunity for the UK and would create a new strategic export.
This announcement from the Government is a welcome development and we look forward to seeing how this develops. The opportunity presented by levelling up is significant, and the Government should look to see how it can leverage innovative low-carbon solutions that can help create export opportunities with new manufacturing bases, as well as decarbonising existing and new industry to sustain them in the long term.
U-Battery is an advanced/small modular reactor, capable of providing a low-carbon, cost-effective, locally embedded and reliable source of power and heat for energy intensive industry and remote locations. It is being developed by Urenco in collaboration with a number of supporting organisations and has received funding from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's Energy Innovation Portfolio.
Rebecca Astles, Urenco
T: +44 (0)1753 660660
E: [email protected]
James Watson, Madano (UK)