Britain is set to become the first country in Europe to launch a high-tech HALEU nuclear fuel programme, strengthening supply for new nuclear projects. An additional benefit, say ministers, is ending Russia’s monopoly on the fuel, thus driving Russia out of energy markets.
A £300 million investment announced this week by ministers is part of plans to help deliver up to 24GW of clean, reliable nuclear power by 2050 – a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs.
The government funding will support production focused on north West England of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), the specialist fuel required to power the next generation of nuclear reactors. Most advanced reactors require this fuel that is currently only commercially produced in Russia.
An additional £10 million will also be provided to develop the skills and sites to produce other advanced nuclear fuels in the UK, helping to secure long term domestic nuclear fuel supply and support international allies.
This builds on the UK’s status as a world leader in the production of nuclear fuels, with domestic capability in uranium enrichment and in fuel fabrication in the North-West of England.
Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, said:
‘’We stood up to Putin on oil and gas and financial markets, and 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.
This will be critical for energy security at home and abroad and builds on Britain’s historic competitive advantages.