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Delivering New Nuclear Projects: A Megaprojects Perspective

Saunders, FC and Townsend, EA (2019) Delivering New Nuclear Projects: A Megaprojects Perspective. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business. ISSN 1753-8378 (In Press)

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Abstract

This conceptual paper draws on the megaprojects literature and salutary lessons from previous megaprojects to make recommendations for policymakers, promotors and project managers on how to structure and deliver new nuclear build programmes. This paper is underpinned by the extant literature and an analysis of public domain data from three proposed new nuclear power plants in the UK. It identifies the main challenges facing new nuclear build projects and subsequently proposes lessons that can be learnt from megaprojects, in order to plan, structure and deliver new nuclear build programmes successfully. The paper argues that megaprojects are simultaneously trait-making, rather than trait-taking, possess a temporality and timescale in excess of typical infrastructure projects, suffer from high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity, are organisationally complex, costly and are highly likely to destroy rather than create value. Secondly, it argues that the challenges facing new nuclear build are not merely technological but also institutional, political and societal in nature. The nature of these challenges is exemplified using three proposed new nuclear build projects in the UK. This is the first paper to draw on both extant megaproject theory and on an analysis of the public domain data from three proposed new nuclear power plants in the UK. It makes contributions to megaprojects theory and practice, and specifically to nuclear new build projects. Importantly, it proffers recommendations for how new nuclear build programmes around the world might be structured, planned and delivered to minimise the risks of failure.

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