The UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has launched a new project which aims to find ways to reduce the cost of nuclear power.

The Nuclear Cost Drivers Project will analyze historic, contemporary and future nuclear power projects to identify cost drivers and potential cost reductions in design, construction and operation.

The project, which will run until April 2018, includes UK consulting firm CleanTech Catalyst and US-based consultancy Lucid Strategy. An independent review will be provided by Dr Tim Stone, chair of Nuclear Risk Insurers Ltd.

ETI said the project is based on its analysis that “nuclear power has a potentially significant role to play in the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy as long as it is cost-competitive within the overall energy mix and there is a market need”.

It said the initial challenge for the UK’s nuclear newbuild industry is to build and commission new nuclear projects in the next ten years “within acceptable norms of budget and schedule variation”.

“After delivering these first new plants in the UK, the subsequent challenge will be to deliver cost reductions for follow-on plants”.

Mike Middleton, strategy manager for the ETI’s nuclear programme, said that while the renewables industry, and offshore wind in particular, have been able to show that cost reductions are possible through R&D and deployment at scale, “there are currently no evidence-led projects which can illustrate whether the costs of generating electricity from new nuclear power stations can be reduced.

“The challenge for nuclear new build in the UK is to demonstrate that it can show a credible way of delivering reduced costs,” he said, adding that advanced reactor technologies are expected to “deliver a step reduction in costs.”