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UK to quadruple its nuclear power generation by 2050

The Civil Nuclear Roadmap which the government have unveiled today lays out the most significant expansion of the UK’s nuclear programme for 70 years.

The generation of nuclear energy will quadruple to 24 gigawatts by 2050, enough to provide a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs.  

The roadmap will involve the government looking at the development of a new power station the size of Sizewell in Suffolk or Hinkley in Somerset (pictured above), which are capable of powering 6 million homes each.  

The government will also invest up to £300 million in UK production of the fuel required to power new nuclear reactors, known as HALEU (High-assay low-enriched uranium), currently only commercially produced in Russia. 

As the first country in Europe to launch a HALEU programme, the aim is to lead the way in providing the world with this much in demand form of uranium fuel, with the first plant aiming to be operational early in the next decade. This builds on the ambition to return uranium conversion to the Springfields nuclear fuel site.

An additional £10 million will be provided to develop the skills and sites needed to produce other advanced nuclear fuels in the UK, helping to secure long term domestic nuclear fuel supply.

It is also planned that, every five years between 2030 ands 2044, investment decisions are made that will add 3 – 7GW worth of energy to the programme.

It is thought that changes to regulations could speed up the development of new power stations, such as allowing regulators to assess projects while designs are finalised.

The government has also published two consultations, one on a new approach to siting future nuclear power stations and another on supporting the sector and encouraging private investment to roll out advanced nuclear projects.

Minister for Nuclear Andrew Bowie said: ‘Our plans will give investors the confidence to back new UK projects, with a simpler process for locating new schemes and clear support for private sector companies developing innovative new technologies.

‘The roadmap will also confirm plans for decommissioning to make sure they remain suitable for new nuclear technologies and protect future generations from bearing the costs.’

Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of Nuclear Industry Association, said: ‘We welcome the publication of the roadmap – the commitment to explore a further large-scale project beyond Sizewell C in parallel with the deployment of SMRs is very welcome. We will need both large and small nuclear at scale and at pace for our energy security and net zero future. 

‘The commitments to maximise our use of regulatory assessments already undertaken overseas will help get innovative reactor designs into construction faster and reduce the duplication in regulatory activity that eats up time for no additional benefit.’

 

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