The CBI has demanded progress on small nuclear reactors and a controversial new way for financing large-scale developments.

At the launch of “The low-carbon 2020s: A decade of delivery” report, CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn, said the business organisation believed a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model “could be the answer” to replacing the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet.

And she also called on the Government to identify sites for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and put in place regulatory processes to ensure the technology to be deployed by the 2030.

Ms Fairbairn said nuclear has a key role to play in helping Britain eradicate all CO2 emissions by 2050 and that urgent action was needed to reach the ambitious target, which his now enshrined in law.

“To tackle the climate emergency in the time we have, we need to go faster, and further, than ever before,” she said.

“The next ten years will be crucial. With the tech advancing so rapidly and costs falling, the goal of a net-zero future is achievable.

“But the truth is that nobody has done anything like this, on this scale before. Business can’t do it alone. It must be done in partnership with Government every step of the way.”

On the use of a RAB model to fund large-scale nuclear developments, Ms Fairbairn said: “With over half of the UK’s nuclear capacity set to be retired this decade, the Government needs to progress the financing for new nuclear.

“Construction is advancing at Hinkley Point C – and this must be replicated at other sites to secure the biggest benefits for consumers, and make the most of the jobs, this industry supports.

“We believe a RAB approach could be the answer — given its potential to reduce risks and costs for investors as well deliver better value to consumers and taxpayers.”

Meanwhile, the CBI report also calls for greater momentum behind SMRs, which it says have the “potential to be cost-effective, innovative contributors to the UK’s energy mix”.

“The Government should work with industry to set indicative dates for key milestones for the deployment of a first-of-a-kind SMR by 2030,” it adds.

Elsewhere, the CBI wants emerging decarbonisation technologies, such as carbon capture use and storage and hydrogen-based solutions, “scaled up”, and for the success of offshore wind to be replicated on land.

It has also demanded plans from the Government to turn transport network and heating “green, sooner rather than later”, and for more investment in electrical vehicle charging infrastructure.

“This must include Government action to ensure our rural and most remote areas don’t get left behind,” added Ms Fairbairn.

A consultation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on adapting the RAB model to fund new nuclear came to a close last month.

Industry leaders in Cumbria think it will resurrect the potential for a large-scale development to take place at the Moorside site adjacent to Sellafield, after NuGen’s plans for three reactors collapsed in November 2018.

Since then plans for nuclear power stations at Wylfa Newydd, Anglesey and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, have also been shelved due to issues over financial support.

While construction work continues at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, its developers French-owned company EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) have admitted the project could cost £2.9 billion more than first thought due to “challenging ground conditions”.

The issue has shone a spotlight on the RAB model. While the additional costs will be carried by EDF and CGN under its contract-for-difference model, it would be consumers who would have to carry the burden for any overruns, along with the construction costs under a RAB model. Consumers would, on the other hand, pay less for the energy produced.

Meanwhile, issues around large-scale developments have fuelled enthusiasm for SMRs, which are smaller, cheaper to manufacture and can be constructed off-site before installation.

Both Copeland Borough Council and Copeland MP Trudy Harrison have vowed to push the case for SMRs to be located in the district, with Moorside, Sellafield and Fellside “common sense” locations.

And Cumbrian businesses have been putting themselves in the shop window to aid the manufacture of SMRs by showcasing their expertise and capability to multi-national engineering company Rolls-Royce recently.

Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium – which also includes the National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuvia and Wood – to design a first-of-a-kind SMR, which could create up to 40,000 jobs and generate enough electivity to power 750,000 homes.