The Future of Nuclear Power in the UK: Challenges and Opportunities

A growth globally in population and living standards is driving an increase in energy consumption worldwide. The drivers for energy include essential large-scale power generation, industrial activity, and increased transportation capabilities. These activities come with staggering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, exacerbating the already significant cumulative totals which are resulting in a global rise in temperature. Currently, the main sources for global electrical energy generation comes from thermal power using coal and natural gas followed by hydro-electric plants, nuclear power with remaining energy being produced from biomass, geothermal, wind, solar and marine energy.

Nuclear energy is a low-carbon source of electricity production and is the second largest source of low carbon electricity production globally after hydropower. Nuclear power accounts for 10% of the world’s electricity generation and 18% of electricity in OECD countries. Almost all reports from governments and organisations consider nuclear power as required to create a sustainable future energy system. An IEA report published in 2022, concluded that achieving net-zero targets globally will be significantly harder and more expensive without nuclear energy. The UK currently generates ~15% of its electricity from about 6.5 GW of nuclear capacity. However, most existing capacity will be shut down in the next 10 years. Where current government plans have ambitions for nuclear power to reach 25% of electricity production. Hence there is a need to investigate current and future nuclear power technologies, their technology readiness level, costs and required policy and funding mechanisms to enhance nuclear power generation and ensure British energy security. This research evaluated the prospects for new nuclear power generation to provide a significant proportion of UK generation, showing a rigorous, evidence-based evaluation of realistic timescales, costings and funding mechanisms and required skillsets and collaborations.

This event will include a panel discussion with Nobuo Tanaka and Hisashi Yoshikawa.


Dr Nadine Moustafa is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Imperial College London. Her PhD focused on the interplay of chemical- reaction and mass-transfer rates in controlling the overall CO2 capture rate in aqueous amine solvents which, in turn, is a key driver for the process economics. In her role at ICL, Nadine leads projects, conducting socioeconomic and techno-economic analyses primarily centered on industrial cluster decarbonisation. She evaluates prospects for new nuclear power generation in the UK, considering practical timelines, costings, funding mechanisms, and collaborative efforts. Nadine also contributes to crafting innovative carbon accounting methodologies, supporting effective net-zero strategies in a project joint with Hitachi. Nadine is also a member of the Institute of Chemical Engineers and is involved in roles that are actively supporting diversity in STEM, outreach, and early career researchers. Furthermore, Nadine is the programme and policy officer at the Coalition of Negative Emissions (CNE) focusing on advancements in negative emission technologies and related policies.

Dr Aidan Rhodes is a Research Fellow based at Imperial College London. He is currently Energy Policy Briefing Papers Fellow at the Energy Futures Lab, working on preparing a range of accessible briefing papers on topics of relevance to energy sector policymakers and stakeholders. Previously, he was part of the Energy Strategy Fellowship team for the UK Research Councils, which was tasked with creating a prospectus of future skills, research and training needs for the UK energy sector, as well as carrying out a large-scale research project on comparing the effectiveness of national energy innovation systems across the world. Aidan has also been Knowledge Exchange Associate at the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), where he carried out a wide range of activities aimed at connecting and facilitating UK and international energy research efforts.

Dr Megan Wyn Owen is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Imperial College London. Megan’s work is focused on using atomic scale modelling to develop an understanding of fuel behaviour during operation. Works include analysing liquid nuclear fuel behaviour during accident scenario conditions to better inform future safety cases, alongside analysing properties of non-stoichiometric fuel to better understand the impact of operation on nuclear fuel behaviour. Megan is passionate about highlighting the opportunities in nuclear, and has recently been awarded a Royal Society of Chemistry grant to showcase the opportunities of nuclear technologies to secondary school students. Alongside this, Megan is also the STEM and Outreach lead for the Nuclear Insititue London and South East branch, actively planning and engaging in opportunities across the region.


Nobuo Tanaka – Executive Director Emeritus, The International Energy Agency (IEA)

Nobuo Tanaka is Chairman of the steering committee of the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum (ICEF), which was established by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014. He was Chairman and President of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation for 2015-2020. As Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) from 2007 to 2011, he initiated a collective release of oil stocks in June 2011. He also played a crucial and personal role in the strengthening of ties with major non-Member energy players, including China and India. He began his career in 1973 in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and has served in a number of high-ranking positions, including Director-General of the Multilateral Trade System Department. He was deeply engaged in bilateral trade issues with the US as Minister for Industry, Trade and Energy at the Embassy of Japan, Washington DC. He has also served twice as Director for Science, Technology and Industry (DSTI) of the Paris-based international organization, OECD (1989- 95, 2004-07). As CEO of Tanaka Global Inc, he advises several Japanese and International companies. He is a member of International Advisory Committee of TotalEnergies since 2013. He is currently Senior Executive Advisor, Air Liquide Japan. He is a member of Stakeholders Panel of Orano. He graduated from the University of Tokyo and have MBA from Case Western Reserve University. He is Distinguished Fellow of Center on Global Energy Policy of Columbia University and Institue of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ).

Hisashi Yoshikawa is a Project Professor of the Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP), the University of Tokyo, and also belongs to the Institute for Future Initiatives (IFI). Before he started to work in the University in September 2011, he worked both in the International Energy Agency (IEA) as Senior Advisor for Long – Term Policy and in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as Deputy Director of the Directorate of Science, Te chnology and Industry (STI). He also worked in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of the Japanese Government and held director positions including Director of the Service Affairs Policy Division and Director of the Petroleum Distribution Di vision. His interests include policy planning and implementation, particularly in the field of energy, climate change and decarbonization. He received his master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 1987 and a BA in law from the University of Tokyo in 1981. He also works as Research Director of the Canon Institute for Global Strategy (CIGS), where he implements research projects including future nuclear in Japan, decarbonization and geopolitics, etc.


About Energy Futures Lab

Energy Futures Lab is one of seven Global Institutes at Imperial College London. The institute was established to address global energy challenges by identifying and leading new opportunities to serve industry, government and society at large through high quality research, evidence and advocacy for positive change. The institute aims to promote energy innovation and advance systemic solutions for a sustainable energy future by bringing together the science, engineering and policy expertise at Imperial and fostering collaboration with a wide variety of external partners.

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