• 5 minutes China Faces Economic Collapse
  • 8 minutes ZeroHedge: Oil And Gas Bankruptcies To Accelerate As $137 Billion Debt Matures Over Next Two Years
  • 11 minutes Trump Will Win In 2020
  • 14 minutes Oil Production Growth In U.S. Grinds To A Halt
  • 6 hours The Belt & Road Initiative: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?
  • 5 hours Democrats and Gun Views
  • 6 hours How OPEC and OECD play their role in setting oil price in light of Iranian oil sanction ?? Does the world agree with Iran's oil sanctions ???
  • 3 mins Drone attacks cause fire at two Saudi Aramco facilities, blaze now under control
  • 7 hours Buy Oil Monday?
  • 2 hours Swedish Behavioral Scientist Suggests Eating Humans to ‘Save the Planet’ from Climate Change. What could possibly go wrong?
  • 17 mins Cost of oil
  • 4 hours “Who’s going to bail out the Central Banks?”
  • 3 hours Trump Orders Biofuel Boost
  • 12 hours It's the demand, Stupid
  • 9 hours Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen
  • 6 hours Green New Deal Preview in Texas Town
  • 6 hours Used Thin Film Solar Panels at 15 Cents per Watt
Alt Text

U.S. Nuclear Has A Tough Road Ahead

High-profile disasters and a booming…

Alt Text

Nuclear Power Dying A Slow Death

Global nuclear power capacity could…

Alt Text

Nuclear Fusion Could Be A Reality By 2025

As carbon emissions continue to…

Jess McCabe

Jess McCabe

Jess is a writer for Environmental Finance.Environmental Finance is the leading global publication covering the ever-increasing impact of environmental issues on the lending, insurance, investment…

More Info

Premium Content

Spent Nuclear Fuels Could Provide an Economic Opportunity for the UK

The UK should turn its stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel into a £10 billion ($16 billion) economic opportunity, according to a report from the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment.

David King, director of the institute and former chief scientific adviser to the government, said: “Currently the UK has a window of opportunity to deal with its nuclear material and spent fuel … and to maximise the value of its existing assets.”

The UK has likely the largest stockpile of spent nuclear fuel of any country, a legacy of its 20th century nuclear programme. This includes around 100 tonnes of separated plutonium and 6,000 tonnes of spent fuel from the country’s advanced gas-cooled reactors, as well as nuclear fuel to be generated by a proposed new fleet of power stations from 2018.

Rather than viewing this legacy as a liability, King said, “What we have accomplished is a large amount of useable uranium and a large amount of plutonium.”

He argued that the UK’s nuclear plan should not be held back by the suspected meltdown of the Fukushima plant in Japan. “Do we see that, as a result of the awful disaster in Japan, that we take a backwards step on dealing with the massive problems of global warming? I hope not,” King said at the report launch in London.

The UK government has reiterated its commitment to a new generation of nuclear power plants, despite the still-unfolding crisis in Japan. However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said during a press conference in Mexico on 29 March that additional safety standards likely to be required in the wake of the disaster may mean nuclear is too expensive to build without government subsidy, which the coalition has said it will not provide. The utilities Centrica and EDF have proposed a £20 billion investment in nuclear in the UK.

The report was welcomed by the Nuclear Industry Association in the UK, but Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr said: “By reprocessing nuclear waste and turning it into fuel, you create even more nuclear waste than you would otherwise have to deal with anyway. Reprocessing would also lead to increased multi-billion pound taxpayer handouts to the nuclear industry, and that’s before you consider what it would mean for our ability to constrain nuclear weapons proliferation around the world.”

One scenario outlined in the report involves processing the stockpiles into less radioactive waste – although the technology to do this for the plutonium stockpile is so far unproven – for eventual long-term storage in a geological facility planned to open in 2075.

The other three scenarios all presume the UK would build or renovate facilities at Thorp, the existing nuclear reprocessing and decommissioning site in Sellafield, to reprocess the stockpiles into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for a proposed new fleet of nuclear power stations.

The final scenario would also see the Thorp plant refurbished, with an extended operating life, to reprocess not only the UK’s spent fuel but, on a commercial basis, stockpiles from other countries.

However, the economic value to the UK of these scenarios varies widely. Report author Gregg Butler told Environmental Finance that the £10 billion figure does include government spending likely to be necessary in carrying out the plans.

The UK’s history with commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing is chequered. In 2001, the country opened a MOX reprocessing plant in Sellafield. Designed to produce 120 tonnes of MOX fuel a year, the £1.2 billion plant produced five tonnes in five years of operation and became mired in controversy. The first shipment of MOX from Sellafield to Japan was returned in a scandal related to nuclear data.

Parr from Greenpeace said: “Previous governments failed experiments at Sellafield mean that producing this sort of highly radioactive fuel has already cost the British taxpayer billions.”

By. Jess McCabe

Source: Environmental-Finance




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play