U.K. backs nuclear innovation with £77 million

December 22, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear News

The U.K. government has announced £77 million (about $93 million) in new funding to support the development of the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors in Britain and to boost the nation’s nuclear fuel production.

According to the December 13 funding announcement, up to £60 million (about $72.5 million) is being committed to kick-start the next phase of research into high-temperature gas reactor technology. This funding from the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development, and Demonstration Program aims to get a demonstration project up and running by the end of the decade. (The U.K. government last December confirmed the selection of the HTGR as the technology of choice for its demonstration program.)

In addition, £4 million (about $4.8 million) is being provided for the Advanced Modular Reactor Knowledge Capture Project, which, the announcement stated, “seeks to facilitate knowledge capture and sharing to reduce the time, risk, and cost of AMR RD&D program delivery, and provide U.K. organizations with valuable knowledge to leverage against international funding.”

Fuel funding: The government is allocating up to £13 million (about $15.7 million) for Westinghouse’s Springfields site. “The funding will mean the U.K. has the option of being less reliant on imports from abroad and helps the company develop the capability convert both reprocessed uranium and freshly mined uranium to make new fuel,” the announcement said. “This is a significant investment at the Westinghouse Springfields site . . . safeguarding hundreds of highly skilled jobs in the northwest. As well as bolstering U.K. energy security, ministers hope it will also deliver export opportunities for the sector and position the U.K. as a key international supplier of nuclear fuel and fuel cycle services.”

Located near Preston, Lancashire, in northwestern England, Springfields is the United Kingdom’s only site for nuclear fuel manufacturing, supplying all its advanced gas-cooled reactor fuel. According to Westinghouse, Springfields fuel is responsible for about 32 percent of Britain’s low-carbon electricity generation.

Tarik Choho, president of nuclear fuel at Westinghouse, said in response to the funding announcement, “There is a strong global appetite for diversified and secure sources of supply of fuel and services, and the U.K.’s nuclear excellence and experience, particularly at Springfields, offer utilities an attractive option. We are delighted the U.K. government recognizes the role of Springfields and its workforce as a strategic asset that supports a clean and secure energy future.”

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