UK: £300m Investment in the HALEU Programme

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The United Kingdom (UK) will invest £300 million in domestic high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) production. This investment is part of the government plan to deliver 24 GW of nuclear power by 2050 and reduce the reliance on Russia for the supply of HALEU for the next generation of nuclear reactors. Furthermore, an additional £10 million will be provided for developing the skills and sites for advanced nuclear fuel production in the UK.

As said by Claire Coutinho, secretary of state for Energy Security and Net Zero, “We stood up to Putin on oil and gas and financial markets, we won’t let him hold us to ransom on nuclear fuel. Britain gave the world its first operational nuclear power plant, and now we will be the first nation in Europe outside of Russia to produce advanced nuclear fuel,”, adding that “This will be critical for energy security at home and abroad and builds on Britain’s historic competitive advantages.

The most advanced reactors require HALEU fuel, which is currently only commercially available in Russia. Hence, this would enable the UK to be a world leader in nuclear fuel production with domestic uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication in the North-West of England. As a result, this will protect households from global instability by enabling net-zero without a rise in prices.

The advanced modular reactors are smaller and can be produced in factories, enabling faster and cheaper power station building. Various designs also have the potential not only for low-carbon electricity but also for hydrogen or industrial heat production. The first plant is planned to be operational in the early 2030s and will thereby support the local industry and open new job opportunities.

At the COP28 climate summit, the UK restated its commitment with G7 partners to reduce global Russian fuel dependence.

Ashton Henning

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