Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Mini nuclear reactors will hit YOUR town by early 2030s, Energy Sec vows

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MINI-NUCLEAR reactors will begin to be rolled out across the country within the next ten years – but there will be no return to fracking anytime soon.

Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho says Britain will be “one of the first countries in the world, if not the first” to have a small modulator reactor that can produce power for a million homes.


Political editor Harry Cole, Claire Coutinho and London cabbie Grant DavisCredit: Arthur Edwards / The Sun
The BWRX-300 small modular reactor


The BWRX-300 small modular reactorCredit: Handout
The Energy Secretary spoke about nuclear power plants and 'cheap energy'


The Energy Secretary spoke about nuclear power plants and ‘cheap energy’Credit: Arthur Edwards / The Sun

The Secretary of State told The Sun’s Harry Cole on Never Mind the Ballots that she wants to bring “cheap energy to the country”.

Coutinho said it’s “the kind of nuclear power plant that you can build in a factory and roll out cheaply across the country”.

You can watch Never Mind the Ballots on the Sun’s YouTube channel and thesun.co.uk.

The Rolls Royce made mini-reactors are a fraction of the size and cost of traditional nuclear plants, with ministers promising they could one day be built in dozens of towns and cities.

It comes as Claire Coutinho…

  • ADMITTED her flagship home insulation scheme has been “slow on the uptake”
  •  HIT BACK at our Sun cabbie as the pair became locked in fiery feud
  •  WARNED meddling Euro judges to stay the hell out of countries’ climate policies
  •  REJECTED calls to bring back fracking to the UK to help energy security
  •  BLASTED Labour for going too fast on Net Zero risking a “made in China” economy”
  •  WARNED ministers could follow the USA and slap Chinese electric car imports with 100 per cent tariffs

The firm say they will initially cost around £2.2 billion each and operate for 60 years.

But quizzed on this week’s Never Mind the Ballots on the snail pace of their delivery since initially being suggested, Coutinho said: “So nuclear takes a bit of time to build.

“But in the early 2030s, this is what I’m working on.”

You can watch Never Mind The Ballots on YouTube and thesun.co.uk.

Ministers are aiming to quadruple UK nuclear power by 2050 with an initial four mini-reactors earmarked for construction.

The first sites will be Wylfa Newydd and Trawsfynydd in Wales, Oldbury, in the West Midlands, Sellafield in Cumbria.

The plans include exploring building a new power plant as big as Sizewell in Suffolk or Hinkley in Somerset, which can power six million homes each.  

The Government will also invest up to £300million in UK production of the fuel required to power high-tech new nuclear reactors, known as HALEU, which is only being commercially produced in Russia.  

But Coutinho poured cold water on giving the green light to fracking in the UK to protect our energy security.

The United States has all but secured its energy independence through shale gas extraction – but Coutinho said the circumstances are too tricky in Britain.

How do nuclear power plants work?

NUCLEAR technology was used in the 1940s to make bombs, but has been developed to generate energy since the 1950s.

Around a tenth of the world’s electricity, and a fifth of the United States’ electricity comes from nuclear energy.

Nuclear power plants (NPP) are thermal power stations that use nuclear reactors to generate energy.

NPPs generate electricity through nuclear fission, a process where low-enriched uranium atoms are split in a nuclear reactor.

In June 1954 the first nuclear power plant began operating in Obninsk, USSR.

The world’s first full-scale power station opened in Calder Hall in Northern England two years later.

Nuclear power is regarded as a largely clean and efficient means of energy production.

There are 11 nuclear reactors in five locations in operation across the UK.

According to Statista, of the UK’s 11 nuclear power plants, the operating capacity was highest at Sizewell B on the Suffolk coast, with a total of 1,198 megawatts as of 2021.

Approximately 55 new reactors are under construction, in 19 different countries including Russia, China and India and the United Arab Emirates. Another 30 countries are considering new nuclear programmes.

An additional 220 nuclear research reactors exist in over 50 countries for training purposes and production of medical materials.

After a massive backlash in local communities, the Tories slammed the breaks on UK fracking ahead of the 2019 General Election.

The minister told The Sun: “We do have a slightly different situation from America… the problem is, is we’ve got a much denser island.

“We’ve got lots of people, lots of communities who are packed across the country.”

 She added: “These are people’s homes, these are people’s villages. We can’t completely override that.

“We need to show the science is safe to proceed with that.

“So at the moment, that’s not where it is.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously described nuclear as the “perfect antidote” to the energy challenges facing Britain.

He said: “This is the right long-term decision and is the next step in our commitment to nuclear power, which puts us on course to achieve net zero by 2050 in a measured and sustainable way.”

Ministers said once up and running the tech would “reduce electricity bills” and end the reliance on expensive foreign imports.

Coutinho previously said that Brits would save money in the long term thanks to the changes.

She insisted this was the “biggest investment in domestic nuclear energy in 70 years”. 

The Government also plans to make it easier and faster to build new nuclear power stations  by improving rules and working with regulators both in the UK and abroad. 

Sun Cabbie Grant with Political Editor Harry Cole


Sun Cabbie Grant with Political Editor Harry ColeCredit: Arthur Edwards / The Sun

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