Considerable debate over the future of the United Kingdom's nuclear power industry resulted in publication of a white paper in January 2008 and ambitious proposals for a new build. While nuclear power has met about one fifth of UK electricity needs in the past decade, about one third of Britain's total electricity generating capacity is expected to need replacing over the next 20 years, partly because most existeing nuclear power stations will close. Concrns about security of supply and climate change frame the UK debate, and while the government has concluded that new nuclear build is a major part of any solution, public opinion remains deeply divided - not least because of the legacy of costly and inefficient former UK nuclear projects. This paper explores the status and prospects of the British nuclear industry, including its history, UK energy strategy and the evolving regulatory framework, and discusses the continuing concerns surrounding the prospective new nuclear build in the UK.

Part of Series

CIGI's Nuclear Energy Futures Papers present research commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Futures Project, which is examining the scope of the purported nuclear energy revival over the coming two decades and its implications for global governance. The papers are written by experts in nuclear energy or nuclear global governance.
  • Ian Davis is an independent human security and arms control consultant, writer and activist. He has a rich background in government, academia, and the NGO sector.