Helena Lyng Blak
2 weeks ago

UK Sets Out to Be Europe’s Nuclear First Mover

UK invests in nuclear fuel to challenge Russia’s dominance and boost local economy.
Photo by robertohunger / DepositPhotos
Photo by robertohunger / DepositPhotos

On Wednesday, May 8, 2024, the United Kingdom government announced that it would invest £196 million (approximately $245 million in USD) in developing a high-tech nuclear fuel facility. 

The money will be awarded to Urenco, a British-German-Dutch nuclear fuel company with enrichment plants in Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and the UK. They will use the funds to construct a uranium enrichment facility expected to begin production by 2031, supplying nuclear power plants both domestically and abroad.

The facility will create 400 highly skilled jobs, which in turn will help boost the economy of Cheshire, where the facility will be located. According to the UK government, this will “cement the status of the North-West of England as a world leader in nuclear fuel production.”

With this move, the UK will be the first nation in Europe to produce advanced nuclear fuel, thereby challenging the current market dominator–Russia.

The UK furthermore announced a competition for up to an additional £600 million (almost $750 million in USD) in contracts to build a commercially viable fusion power station prototype–if successful, it would be the world’s first. 

By investing in nuclear fuel and power, the UK hopes to challenge Russia’s influence over European energy resources.

“Russia has been the sole provider of this powerful nuclear fuel for too long,” said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, continuing, “This marks the latest step in pushing [Putin] out of the energy market entirely.”

Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Claire Coutinho, further elaborated, saying, “We stood up to Putin on oil and gas, and we won’t let him hold us to ransom on nuclear fuel.”

She added, “Backing Urenco to build a uranium enrichment plant here in the UK will mean we are the first European nation outside Russia to produce advanced nuclear fuel.”

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