Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 March 2024.

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Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will undertake an evaluation of the potential benefits of small modular nuclear reactors within Scotland’s energy provision. (S6O-03263)

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

The Scottish Government’s position on traditional fission nuclear energy is clear: we do not support the building of any new nuclear power stations in Scotland using current technologies.

Small modular reactors use the same method of electricity generation as traditional nuclear fission.

That causes the same environmental concerns as traditional nuclear power plants. SMRs still create radioactive waste that requires complex and expensive management, and they are unnecessary in Scotland given that proven renewables and storage technologies already provide a pathway to net zero for Scotland.

Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

More than 20 countries around the world have pledged to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050. Canada, Finland, France, Japan, Sweden, Poland and the Netherlands all get it. To be pro-nuclear is to be pro-environment, yet the Scottish National Party and its Green bosses reject all new nuclear and the thousands of jobs that it would create. How can the minister possibly justify her Government’s opposition to highly skilled and high-wage Scottish jobs?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

I can justify opposition to that particular type of energy because we do not agree with the United Kingdom Government that nuclear energy is environmentally sustainable. As I have previously stated, it is not required in Scotland. Our draft energy strategy sets out that the capacity for renewable generation in Scotland could mean that Scotland’s annual electricity capacity generation will be more than double our demand by 2030 and more than treble by 2045. We have a route to net zero through renewables. We do not need nuclear power.

Photo of Bill Kidd Bill Kidd Scottish National Party

It could take decades for new nuclear power to become operational, and it would involve great expense, which could potentially push up household bills. What assessment has the Scottish Government made of the benefits of a significant growth in renewables, compared with nuclear power, in reducing household energy bills?

Photo of Lorna Slater Lorna Slater Green

New nuclear is expensive, and those costs will impact consumer bills. Under the contract for difference that the United Kingdom Government awarded to Hinkley Point C, the electricity that it generates will be priced at £92.50 per megawatt hour, at 2012 prices. That is significantly higher than the administrative strike prices for solar and onshore and offshore wind that were set in the March 2024 allocation round, which were £61, £64 and £73 per megawatt hour, respectively, at the equivalent of 2012 prices.