UK wants to quadruple its nuclear power and produce fuel for advanced reactors

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With a goal of carbon neutrality in 2050, the United Kingdom has published an ambitious roadmap for civil nuclear power aimed at quadrupling installed power. A high objective given that almost the entire current fleet will be closed by 2030. In addition to this, the country wants to acquire a capacity to produce moderately enriched fuel.

The British civil nuclear roadmap was expected and its ambition is high! The government aims to have around 24 GW of nuclear power available by 2050, a quadrupling of current power. By that date, this will represent around 25% of the country’s electricity mix. Today, nuclear power represents 15% of the electricity mix, but by 2030, 8 of the 9 reactors currently in service will be shut down.

The government’s plans are part of the objective of achieving carbon neutrality in 2050. Concretely, in addition to the two Hinkley Point EPRs currently under construction, and the Sizewell project, the government plans to build a new nuclear power station and will support efforts to develop SMR projects.

Speed up procedures

For British Energy Minister Claire Coutinho, this roadmap is “one of the largest investments in nuclear energy in seventy years” in the country. The government’s objectives aim to secure investment decisions for 3 to 7 GW of new nuclear projects every five years, between 2030 and 2044. For London, this will involve, among other things, more adapted regulations to accelerate the decision-making processes. decision.

Furthermore, a few days before the publication of this roadmap, the government also announced that it would invest up to 300 million pounds (around 350 million euros) in the production of medium enriched fuel (Haleu), between 5 and 20%. It meets the needs of fourth generation nuclear reactors currently under development, the first of which would be operational at the start of the next decade (as in France).

Towards independence

This is a first in Europe for such a project. Secretary of State for Energy Security and Carbon Neutrality, Claire Coutinho, assures: “Britain has given the world its first operational nuclear power station, and now we will be the first nation in Europe outside the Russia to produce advanced nuclear fuel. The United States is also developing domestic production of Haleu. In November last year, the industrial company Centrus Energy made a first delivery of 20kg of Haleu, produced in the United States, directly to the Department of America. The goal is to produce 900 kilograms per year.

This article is originally published on sfen.org

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