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Urenco receives £196m to build advanced nuclear fuels facility

Urenco has received £196m in government funding to support the development of an advanced nuclear fuels facility at the company’s Capenhurst enrichment site in Cheshire.


The new facility, the first in Europe outside of Russia to develop next-generation nuclear fuel, will help the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) to realise its High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) Programme, which was announced in January.

HALEU is uranium enriched up to 20 per cent and will be needed to fuel most advanced modular reactors (AMR) that will help the UK to quadruple its nuclear capacity by 2050. Like small modular reactors, AMRs can be made in factories and transform how power stations are built by making construction faster and less expensive.

According to DESNZ, these advanced reactors are more efficient and use novel fuels, coolants, and technologies to generate low-carbon electricity. Their high heat output means they can also be used to decarbonise industry, produce hydrogen for transport or heat for homes.  


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 tons of coal.

In a statement, Boris Schucht, CEO of Urenco, 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.”

In a related development, a consultation launched today (May 8, 2024) proposes designating all fusion plants as nationally significant infrastructure projects that will be assessed by the Planning Inspectorate and decided on by the Secretary of State for Energy.

Paul Methven, CEO, UK Industrial Fusion Solutions, responsible for the delivery of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), said: “The launch of formal consultation on a National Policy Statement for fusion energy is very welcome and an important milestone in the journey towards a new energy source, deployed in the right way.

“It reflects the UK’s proactive leadership in fusion energy by putting in place the critical enablers that all fusion developments will need, and in a way that will bring communities and the public along.”