Nuclear power workers urged the government today to invest in the industry after a major player pulled out.
The GMB union said it was "disappointed" by Centrica's decision to withdraw from a development of up to four new nuclear power stations in Britain by French firm EDF.
Centrica, which owns British Gas, said it had pulled out because it was too expensive and would take too long to build new plants.
GMB called for public cash to be used via a Nuclear Development Authority which it wants the government to establish.
National secretary for energy and utilities Gary Smith said: "GMB always supported having a UK-owned company at the centre of developing new nuclear power."
He added that new nuclear power will be crucial to producing low-carbon electricity in Britain and for jobs across the country. Tens of thousands of people already work in the nuclear industry.
"It is essential that the government takes steps to reassure industry and the public that they have a coherent strategy for new nuclear power."
But Greenpeace said Centrica's decision exposed the government's energy plans as a shambles.
Policy director Doug Parr said the coalition's "relentless focus on new nuclear has lost us years of investment in truly green energy."
"The longer the government chases its nuclear dream, the more the UK loses out on the jobs and economic benefits that viable, affordable green energy will bring," he warned.
Environment campaign group Friends of the Earth said: "The nuclear dream is becoming an economic nightmare. Centrica's decision to pull out of building new reactors is further evidence of the escalating cost of this form of energy."
Last week the industry suffered another setback when councillors in Cumbria called a halt to research into development of a "dump" to store radioactive waste from Sellafield nuclear power station , which faces a £67.5 billion disposal bill.