Following the COP21 Agreement in Paris last year, the UK is pursuing an ambitious plan to decarbonise its electricity sector, in order to meet 2008 Climate Change Act goals. Capital intensive zero-carbon investment such as nuclear energy is central to the plan, but faces critical financial challenges and controversy over high costs.
In March 2016, Simon Taylor (University of Cambridge, Judge Business School) will publish the book The Fall and Rise of Nuclear Power in Britain: A history. This book builds on his authoritative 2007 book Privatization and financial collapse in the nuclear industry - the origins and causes of the British Energy crisis of 2002 and brings up to date the challenges of financing and delivering nuclear power in a market economy.
Britain was a pioneer in civil nuclear power and there were high hopes in the 1950s that this could be a source of affordable electricity and a valuable export opportunity. In The Fall and Rise of Nuclear Power in Britain: A history, Simon Taylor explores the reasons why these hopes were never realized, and why the UK decided to revive new nuclear power in recent years.
The British Academy would like to take this opportunity to bring together a broad audience, including policy makers, academics, industry representatives and energy organizations to discuss the prospects of nuclear energy in the UK: Will this new nuclear programme turn out to be a heroic story of UK leadership on a matter of global importance, or will it prove a costly folly, as with British nuclear power in the past?
Dr Simon Taylor University of Cambridge
Joan MacNaughton CB World Energy Council
Professor Gordon Mackerron University of Sussex
Chaired by Rt Hon. Lord Howell of Guildford