APPENDIX 3: CALL FOR EVIDENCE |
The Science and Technology Committee, under the Chairmanship
of Lord Krebs, has launched a short inquiry to investigate whether
the UK's nuclear research and development (R&D) capabilities
are sufficient to meet its future nuclear energy requirements
The Government's finalised Energy National Policy
Statements will be presented to Parliament for ratification in
the spring and regulatory approval of nuclear reactor designs
for new build plants is expected to be given later this year.
In recent months, a number of reports, including
a report on nuclear fission by the Energy Research Partnership
in September 2010, have highlighted the need for Government to
look beyond current plans for nuclear new build and, looking ahead
to 2050, to consider whether the UK satisfies the R&D requirements
necessary to meet the country's demand for nuclear energy in the
A range of scenarios and roadmaps estimate that between
12 to 38 GW of nuclear capacity will be required if a secure,
reliable and low carbon energy system is to be in place in the
UK by 2050. Attempts have been made to assess the R&D capabilities
that will be needed, now and in the future, to meet these future
scenarios. Conclusions from this work indicate that, within the
2050 timeframe, deployment of a new generation of nuclear technology
(Generation IV) is likely. If this is the case, a significant
global R&D programme will be needed over the next few years
to ensure successful delivery of Generation IV. Added to this,
increasing demand for uranium, coupled with concerns about nuclear
proliferation, will require consideration of the development of
technologies associated with recycling of fuel and reprocessing
plutonium. Assessment of the adequacy of the UK's nuclear R&D
capabilities will need also therefore to include our being able
to ensure a safe and secure supply of fuel and, when the time
comes, its safe and secure disposal.
In these circumstances, the Committee has decided
that it is timely to consider what role the UK should be playing
in the coming years to develop these future technologies and what
domestic R&D capabilities are needed to contribute to, and
benefit from, international research programmes in order to meet
our future nuclear energy needs.
The Committee decided to undertake this inquiry before
the recent events in Japan concerning the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
plant. Consideration of health and safety R&D capabilities
is inherent within the scope of this inquiry. These events confirm
the importance of ensuring that the UK has adequate R&D capabilities
to meet current and potential future needs for nuclear energy
safely and securely.
The Committee is aware that the UK's nuclear interests
extend beyond the UK's borders to international non-proliferation
and security policies. The Committee fully acknowledges the critical
importance of these policy areas. However, for the purposes of
this present inquiry, our intention is to focus principally on
UK nuclear R&D and our ability to meet future nuclear energy
requirements, touching on other related policy areas only where
they have implications relevant to this inquiry topic.
The Committee invites evidence on the following questions.
Submissions are not required to cover all questions. The deadline
for written evidence submissions is Thursday 28 April 2011.
The implications of future scenarios
- What are the research and capability requirements
of nuclear energy policy options, roadmaps and scenarios up to
- What consideration is the Government giving to
the UK's R&D requirements to meet the policy objectives for
nuclear energy both in the near term and longer term (to 2050)?
Does more need to be done?
- What research capabilities and commitments are
required now to meet these future nuclear energy policies?
The research base
- Does the UK have adequate R&D capabilities,
including infrastructure, to meet its current and future needs
for a safe and secure supply of nuclear energy?
- Are there sufficient opportunities and avenues
to conduct translational nuclear research in the UK to develop
future technologies? Which bodies should be funding this work?
Competing in the global market
- What are the research areas in which the UK is
recognised internationally as having strengths?
- What are the costs and benefits to the UK of
a more or less active R&D capability within the country?
Strategic oversight and co-ordination
- Is there sufficient co-ordination between the
bodies involved in nuclear research and, if not, how should it
be improved? Who has oversight of the whole nuclear R&D landscape,
including international activities?
- What role should the Government play in identifying
gaps in research, providing oversight of the whole landscape and
encouraging co-ordination between funders and deliverers? Are
they fulfilling that role? Should more be done?
International and European research activities
- Should the UK be involved in international and
European research activities on nuclear? If so, how and what are
the benefits and costs of doing so?
- What can the UK learn from how other countries
presently organise and deliver R&D provision for nuclear?
To what extent are other countries increasing or decreasing their
research capacity in order to deliver future nuclear policies?
Roles and responsibilities
- Are the bodies involved in funding research and
setting research agendas adequately fulfilling their roles and
responsibilities? Should anything change?
- In particular:
(1) what is the role of the Research Council's cross-council
Energy Programme? Is it giving sufficient attention to the UK's
current and future nuclear energy research requirements?
(2) is the National Nuclear Laboratory fulfilling
its R&D remit appropriately? Can it deliver the required research
to support the UK's future nuclear energy policies? How does it
compare to NNL's in other countries?
(3) is the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's R&D
remit still appropriate, given the UK's current and potential
future nuclear policies?
The Committee would also be interested to hear about
any other issues not already covered by this call for evidence
that are relevant to the scope of the inquiry.