The UK government supports innovation in the clean energy sector as one of four main economic drivers aimed at overall long-term growth, according to its 255-page Industrial Strategy White Paper released on 27 November.
The document describes decarbonisation as one of the “greatest industrial opportunities of our time”. Some £725m ($976m) of new funding is promised for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund over the next three years to back innovation in high-priority sectors, on top of the £1bn already pledged earlier this year. The government also revelad that it would invest £7.0m to further develop the capability and capacity of nuclear regulators to support the development of advanced technologies.
The nuclear sector is "integral to increasing productivity and driving growth" in the UK, the White Paper noted. "Nuclear is a vital part of our energy mix, providing low-carbon power now and into the future," it says, adding that the safe and efficient decommissioning of the country's nuclear legacy is an area of "world-leading expertise".
Lord Hutton, chairman of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association, said the white paper recognised the wider economic contribution the nuclear industry can continue to make across the UK.
Together with Richard Harrington, the minister for energy and industrial strategy at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Lord Hutton co-chairs the Nuclear Industry Council (NIC), which was re-established in February 2017 to provide strategic leadership to the nuclear industry. Its work includes oversight of the development and delivery of a Nuclear Sector Deal as part of the government's Industrial Strategy.
The white paper said the nuclear sector, is "in advanced discussions" with the government on a range of proposals to increase competitiveness and achieve greater value at both national and regional levels.