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On Monday, the UK government opened a Nuclear Fuel Fund designed to encourage the use of UK-produced nuclear fuel as the country moves to fulfill its G7 commitment to diversify uranium and nuclear fuel production capacity away from Russia.
The UK will allocate $90 million (£75 million) in government funding in a bid to support the development of alternatives to Russian fuel supply and strengthen UK energy security, the UK’s Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart said on Monday.
The recent British Energy Security Strategy (BESS) has the ambition to deploy up to 24GWe of nuclear power by 2050, around 25% of the UK’s projected electricity demand then.
UK operators and the supply chain will be encouraged to develop new conversion capacity in the UK for both freshly mined and reprocessed uranium, as part of the Nuclear Fuel Fund grants.
“These will help power existing as well as future advanced nuclear reactors - and support international diversification from Russian fuel supply,” the UK government said.
“Record high global gas prices, caused by Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, have highlighted the need for more home-grown renewable energy, but also UK generated nuclear power – building more plants, and developing domestic fuel capability,” Minister Stuart said.
“This investment package will strengthen the UK’s energy security, by ensuring access to a safe and secure supply of UK produced fuel to power the UK nuclear fleet of today and tomorrow - squeezing out Russian influence, while creating more UK jobs and export opportunities.”
Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex, said, “Having the sovereign capability to manufacture next generation nuclear fuels for advanced reactors of the future is vital for energy security and net zero.”
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Western governments and customers have been looking to procure alternative nuclear fuel supply, where possible, so as not to rely on Russia and a Russian state corporation, Rosatom, for part of their energy needs.
In the United States, Bill Gates’ TerraPower, which is developing advanced smaller nuclear reactors, is said to have delayed a project in Wyoming by at least two years due to reliance on Russian fuel. Earlier this year, TerraPower and other industry players recognized the urgent need to eliminate reliance on the Russian state corporation for nuclear fuel for America’s next-generation nuclear reactors.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.