On 7 January, the UK government announced a landmark £300 million (about $381 million) investment to launch the country’s own production of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), a specialist nuclear fuel vital for next-generation reactors. This makes Britain the first European nation outside Russia capable of supplying the high-tech HALEU required by advanced designs.
“The landmark £300 million investment 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 report reads.
The UK domestic nuclear fuel program marks a major step towards ending Russia’s monopoly as the only current global commercial producer of HALEU, the British government says. Establishing its own enrichment capability boosts the UK’s energy security while further isolating the Putin regime in response to the war in Ukraine.
UK Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, said:
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.
This will be critical for energy security at home and abroad and builds on Britain’s historic competitive advantages.
The North West of England is set to benefit most from the government funding, with a regional nuclear fuel hub supporting jobs and industry. The first plant is expected to be operational in the early 2030s to power the next-generation reactors critical to expanding affordable, clean electricity in Britain’s net zero transition without increasing consumer prices.
With additional investments in developing other advanced nuclear fuels, the move builds on the UK’s efforts to reduce global dependence on Russian fuel.
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