UK Govt in £196m funding for Chesire nuclear fuel site

The UK government has announced funding of £196 million for Urenco to support the building of an advanced nuclear fuels facility at its Capenhurst enrichment site in in Cheshire.

“This will help to facilitate the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero’s High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) Programme, announced in January,” said Urenco.

“HALEU is uranium enriched up to 20% and will be needed to fuel advanced reactor designs, providing clean, cheap and secure nuclear energy.”

Urenco CEO Boris Schucht said: “The responsibility the nuclear industry has to help governments and customers to achieve climate change and energy security goals is clear.

“We welcome this government investment, which will help accelerate the development of a civil HALEU commercial market and in-turn the development of the next generation of nuclear power plants.

“These plants will have even higher safety standards and lend themselves to quicker licensing and construction processes.

“Urenco has the knowledge and experience to play a leading role in the production of HALEU and other advanced fuels, operating securely under inter-governmental treaties to ensure the peaceful use and safeguarding of nuclear technology.”

The UK government said: “The UK will be the first European nation to produce advanced nuclear fuel – a market currently dominated by Russia – to help fuel nuclear power plants at home and abroad.

“This is part of the government plan to push Putin out of the global energy market and drive down energy bills.

“The UK will build Europe’s first facility to power future nuclear reactors – helping to isolate Russia from global energy markets, boost British energy security and provide reliable, affordable energy.

“The government is awarding £196 million to Urenco to build a uranium enrichment facility. This will produce fuel by 2031 that would be ready to export or use domestically, and could power UK homes in the next decade.

“It will put an end to Russia’s reign as the only commercial producer of high-assay low enriched uranium (HALEU) and ensure other countries are not reliant on Russian exports.

“The new facility will support around 400 highly-skilled jobs, helping to boost the local supply chain and grow the economy. Located at Capenhurst in Cheshire, this will cement the status of the North-West of England as a world leader in nuclear fuel production.

“This builds on the Prime Minister’s ‘national endeavour’ to secure the future of the UK’s thriving nuclear industry – investing at least £763 million in skills, jobs, and education.

“In the 2 years since Putin illegally invaded Ukraine, the UK has led the way in cracking down on Russian oil and gas imports. Now, the UK is working with its nuclear allies to build a secure global uranium supply chain free from Russian influence.

“The UK is also leading the way in fusion energy development, as engineering and construction companies will be invited on to bid for up to £600 million to build the first commercially viable fusion prototype power plant at a former coal plant in Nottinghamshire.

“Fusion could generate a near limitless source of clean electricity, securing the UK’s long-term energy independence.”