Opinion: U.K. power stations could make hydrogen, heat homes, and decarbonize industry

November 5, 2020, 12:19PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear reactors have evolved to achieve more than just electricity generation and should be part of the U.K.’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Photo: Royal Society, authors provided

The United Kingdom needs to start rebuilding its capacity to generate nuclear power, according to an opinion article published Wednesday on The Conversation by two members of the U.K.-based Bangor University faculty.

Bill Lee, a professor of materials in extreme environments, and Michael Rushton, a senior lecturer in nuclear energy, argue that the plan by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the U.K. government on the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, is “strangely silent on nuclear power.”

According to the authors, the next generation of smaller reactors being developed worldwide should be part of the plan to decarbonize the United Kingdom. Part of their appeal, the authors say, is that heat produced during the nuclear reaction can be used for district heating, hydrogen fuel production, or in manufacturing industries that would otherwise use fossil fuel burners to supply needed process heat.

They said it: “We don’t believe that reaching net-zero emissions within the time we have left is possible without building new nuclear reactors,” the authors conclude. “Fortunately, the new models awaiting construction can do so much more than just generate electricity.”

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