Powering up the UK’s Net Zero target while powering down nuclear plants

Photo of nuclear power plant chimneys from a distance

If you have many different subsidiaries, how do you measure your footprint accurately so you can start to decarbonise?

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is charged with decommissioning the UK’s earliest nuclear sites safely, securely and sustainably, on behalf of government, leaving them ready for their next use. It is an essential task that relies on energy-intensive processes like radioactive waste management and transport.

Doing this with care for people, communities and the environment is at the heart of the NDA’s work. The NDA aims to ensure that its mission outcomes and the journey to deliver them are sustainable. This includes supporting government’s carbon Net Zero by 2050 commitment and recognising the need to decarbonise its operations and value chain.

With ten subsidiaries in its group at the time, the NDA wanted to map a clear route to Net Zero. A group-wide path to Net Zero, however, first required capturing an accurate picture of each subsidiary to ensure alignment and identify priorities.



Carbon footprinting at group and individual levels as a foundation for a path to Net Zero

Any organisation must ensure the carbon data for its footprint calculations is correct and consistent. For large groups like the NDA, the data required is extensive, as different emission factors, sources and data inputs feed into the group’s carbon footprint. Together with NDA and its subsidiaries, we:

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Helped raise awareness of carbon accounting and the type of carbon data staff will need to collect from operational processes and suppliers.

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Calculated NDA’s full carbon footprint alongside the footprint of each subsidiary. It showed that of over one million tonnes of CO2e released each year, 60% arise from purchasing goods and services within the supply chain (Scope 3, Category 1).

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Illustrated how business as usual will impact the group’s emissions and modelled different carbon reduction scenarios. E.g., how projects targeting electrified heating and low carbon construction could help the NDA cut its emissions in line with the UK’s Net Zero target.

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Reviewed the embodied carbon in radioactive waste disposal methods for a specific project giving NDA an understanding of the scale of carbon emissions associated with different waste management options.

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Created a Net Zero roadmap to catalyse action for the group’s ten subsidiaries. This meant gathering and integrating a wide variety of stakeholder inputs.


Knowledge is power for planning a low carbon clean-up 

Understanding its carbon emissions and the impact it can make through carbon reductions means the NDA can strengthen its mission to protect communities and the environment while decommissioning nuclear sites. Our partnership has helped the NDA to:

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Take more targeted action. Understanding the emissions hotspots and the gap to the group’s Net Zero target gives each subsidiary a clearer pathway to Net Zero.


Bring subsidiaries together, allowing for greater collaboration and input to take unified action. This work has allowed the NDA to start its Net Zero journey and take further climate action.

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Plan how to engage with suppliers. Since a large part of emissions come from the goods and services the NDA purchases, the authority needs to liaise with its suppliers so that it can cut these emissions.

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Measure its climate change mitigation progress accurately across the board. By raising internal awareness of carbon accounting, target setting, and pathway modelling, teams across the NDA can take ownership and drive carbon reduction at scale.

At the time, there were ten subsidiary operating companies. However, this has changed since. The NDA group is currently made up of the NDA, Sellafield, Magnox with Dounreay, Nuclear Waste Services and Nuclear Transport Solutions.