Sizewell C

The power of the atom. It changed the energy industry forever and became the bedrock of the UK’s energy generation. Once feared, it looks set to help the UK defeat the threat of today, that of climate emergency.

EDF Energy is currently building the UK’s only active power station project at Hinkley Point B – a massive £20.3bn project, and they have just lodged plans for their next station Sizewell C, an equivalent scale scheme.

Speaking at our Building the UK’s Energy Future Conference Julia Pyke, Director of Financing at Sizewell C, dismissed safety concerns around the operation of nuclear power plants: “Nuclear is the safest way bar none of making electricity according to the OECD.”

She recognised concerns around nuclear waste but claimed: “No human has ever been harmed by nuclear waste. The whole media debate is so disproportionate.”

The UK Atomic Energy Authority is leading the way on what has been the most talked about nuclear innovation – nuclear fusion.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is an experimental reactor being built in Southern France which is hoped to prove the viability of the technology. It’s set to start producing plasma by 2025, and 2035 using fusion fuel.

This will then be followed by the DEMO project, which hopes to be the first operational nuclear fusion power station.

Drax Group has made one of the most dramatic transitions within the energy sector. During the 1990s they were the largest emitter of C02 in Europe but they’re now the first to declare a carbon negative target by 2030.

They are in the process of converting their once major coal-fired power station near Selby into a purely biomass power station, and it is already the largest biomass plant in Europe.

Their head of Climate change, Dr Rebecca Heaton described how they were revolutionising the power station: “We’re pioneering something called BECCS, which is Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage, we’re the first BECCS project in the world and we are capturing a ton of C02 a day”

Intelligent Land Investment Group is a major backer of pumped storage, and Chief Executive Mark Wilson said: “It’s the most developed and largest capacity form of energy storage. 95% of the world’s storage is provided by pumped storage.”

The demand for a storage mechanism is only increasing as the UK switches to a greater percentage of renewables like solar and wind which are dependent on weather conditions.

Wilson claimed that pump storage would be the best option to minimise cost and maximise carbon saving: “10 GW of pumped storage on the system along with hydrogen that would be the cheapest cost option and we could meet out net zero commitments”

Julia Pyke summed up the importance of not seeing the energy future as a competition: “Everyone who wants a zero carbon Britain can’t allow us to get into a technology battle. We need an awful lot of electricity. We need carbon capture and storage. But we need some massive grid scale nuclear power to keep the lights on whatever the weather, and we should all work on nuclear fusion.”