Posted: Wed 8th May 2024

UK invests £196m in pioneering advanced nuclear fuel facility at nearby Capenhurst

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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The UK government has committed £196 million to the construction of an advanced nuclear fuel facility at nearby Capenhurst.

The investment marks the UK as the first European nation to enter the production of advanced nuclear fuel, a sector currently dominated by Russia.

This strategic move is part of a broader plan to isolate Russia from global energy markets, boost British energy security, and provide reliable, affordable energy.

The funding has been awarded to Urenco, a leader in the nuclear fuel industry, to develop a uranium enrichment facility.

Scheduled to be operational by 2031, the facility will produce high-assay low enriched uranium (HALEU), making the UK a pivotal player in the global nuclear fuel supply.

This development is expected to end Russia’s exclusivity in commercial HALEU production and diminish global dependency on Russian energy exports.

Positioned in Capenhurst, the facility will create approximately 400 high-skilled jobs, significantly benefiting the local economy and reinforcing the region’s status as a hub for nuclear technology.

Over the past two years, since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the UK has led international efforts to reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Urenco’s facility will have the capacity to produce up to 10 tonnes of HALEU per year by 2031. When fabricated into fuel, 10 tonnes of HALEU could contain as much energy as over one million tonnes of coal.

The funding is part of the £300 million HALEU programme announced in January this year. Urenco, which is part-owned by the UK government and renowned for nuclear enrichment services, will co-fund the facility.

The programme builds on commitments made at COP28, which saw the G7 nuclear nations or ‘Sapporo 5’ – Canada, Japan, France, the UK, and the US – commit to increasing uranium production, as they are responsible for 50% of the world’s nuclear fuel conversion and enrichment capability.

Boris Schucht, CEO of Urenco, said:

“The responsibility the nuclear industry has to help governments and customers 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.”

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:

“Building our own uranium enrichment plant is essential if we want to prise Putin’s blood-soaked hands off Europe’s energy market.”

“Russia has been the sole provider of this powerful nuclear fuel for too long and this marks the latest step in pushing him out of the energy market entirely.”

“The wider future of British nuclear remains a critical national endeavour – guaranteeing nuclear and energy security, and reducing energy bills for Brits.”.

Deeside had been earmarked as one area where Rolls Royce wanted to build a factory in support of its small modular reactor (SMR) programme.

However reports last week suggest the plans have been scaled back casting doubts over the move.

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