The Nuclear Dilemma

Never miss a recording again; click here subscribe to Z/Yen's YouTube account .

Background: In October 2010 the UK Government gave the green light to eight new nuclear reactors. It would see the UK push forward with the most ambitious fleet of new nuclear power stations in Europe. On 11 March 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster occurred and nuclear power plant investment in the UK was put on hold. It was not until September 2016 the Government approved the construction of Hinkley C Power Station, with work actually commencing in March 2017 and scheduled to finish in 2025.Originally estimated to cost £26bn latest cost estimates are £36bn with forecast completion dates ranging from 2027 to 2036.

The level of investment in these large power stations has led many to consider Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Typically generating 300MW compared to the 1600 MW of the Hinkley C units they can be largely factory built, require lower investment and as the numbers produced are much larger manufacturing time and costs would benefit from the "learning curve” associated with building multiple units.

To meet its carbon commitment the UK Government is now considering around seven SMR designs and is predicted to reduce this to two or three by the end of 2023. The ambition was to have SMRs operational by 2030 but latest announcements suggest a final investment decision by 2030 with construction starting around 2035. In the meantime renewable energy is becoming more attractive and new SMR designs are starting to appear and different power generation scenarios are being considered.

As time slips by the dilemma facing the Government is: Should it invest in nuclear power? should it invest in SMRs? and if so... When should it make the investment? As time passes the decision becomes ever more complex.


Professor Keith Ridgway CBE FREng is the Senior Executive - Manufacturing at the University of Strathclyde. Born in Manchester, Keith studied for his first degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Manchester (UMIST) and started his career as a Special Apprentice at Mather and Platt Ltd, Manchester. He worked as a design engineer at Kennedy and Donkin Consulting Engineers, Manchester before studying for a PhD at the University of Manchester, supported by Shell International Marine. After completion he returned to industry before becoming an academic with a strong desire to bring Industry and Academia closer together. In 2000, he worked with Sheffield businessman Adrian Allen to establish the AMRC with Boeing at the University of Sheffield. This mechanism of collaborative working not only extended to other sectors but was the basis of how Catapults work with industry today. In 2019 he joined the University of Strathclyde as the Exec Chair of the Advanced Forging Research Centre and established the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland. In September 2020, he was appointed as the Chair of Industry Wales by Ministerial appointment. (Welsh Government).

Professor Ridgway is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Royal Institute of Naval Architects and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. In 2019 he was elected a Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute. He was awarded the OBE for services to UK manufacturing industry in June 2005 and a CBE for services to Manufacturing Research in January 2012. 

Wednesday, 06 March 2024

11:00 - 11:45 GMT



Share this event on social media:


  • keith ridgeway
    Professor Keith Ridgway CBE FREng
    Senior Executive – Manufacturing
    University of Strathclyde
  • Mike_3_2-min.original_2_100x100_compressed
    Mike Wardle
    Chief Executive Officer
    Z/Yen Group

svg.lf_footer_svg{ height: 30px; width: 30px; }