Brexit will result in the UK leaving Euratom, and this has opened some vulnerabilities at a time when additional nuclear capacity is demanded in order to meet climate change commitments.
A report from National Grid has indicated that the UK needs to build 14.5 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2035 or it will fail to meet the “Two Degrees scenario”. Two Degrees refers to the goal set by the Paris Climate Change Agreement to keep global temperature increases this century below 2 degrees Celsius. The UK agreed to participate in the agreement in 2015.
In its annual update of its Future Energy Scenarios published this week, National Grid, the private company that runs Britain’s high-voltage electricity network, also noted that national electricity demand could peak at 85 GWe by 2050, compared with around 60 GWe today.
Meanwhile, the UK’s nuclear sector will have to undergo some logistical changes as the country exits the European Union. To prepare, the UK government’s Department for Exiting the European Union published a position paper on nuclear materials and safeguards issues, which the head of the country’s Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) says “demonstrates the complexity” of replicating arrangements with the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
An orderly and smooth break away from Euratom for the UK is desired. The paper proposes the NIA will work with Euratom according to five principles: ensuring a smooth transition to a UK nuclear safeguards regime with no interruption in safeguards arrangements; providing certainty and clarity to industry and others wherever possible; collaborating on nuclear research and development in order to maximize the benefit of shared expertise and resources; minimising barriers to civil nuclear trade for industry in the UK, Euratom and third countries; ensuring mobility of skilled nuclear workers and researchers; and collaborating on areas of wider interest, including regulatory cooperation and emergency preparedness, as reported by World Nuclear News.