HomeNuclearTop scientists urge new nuclear development in the UK

Top scientists urge new nuclear development in the UK

A report by a science group charged with advising the UK government says the country needs to develop a huge fleet of currently experimental nuclear reactors by the middle of the century, to generate around two-thirds of the country’s electricity supply if it is to meet the most nuclear-intensive scenario for moving away from fossil fuels.

Three of the UK’s most senior scientific advisers have compiled the report advocating the strategy in order for the UK to successfully transition away from fossil fuels.
Nuclear plant
The expansion would involve developing nuclear generation technologies that are not currently used commercially anywhere in the world.

It may mean a trebling of the current number of reactors ” 16 at nine different sites around the country so as to fill the gap left by fossil fuels such as coal and gas, which the government has pledged to phase out to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The report, which is not yet published, encourages development of unconventional alternatives such as “fast reactors” powered off nuclear waste, designs using thorium rather than uranium, and even fusion power.

Sir John Beddington, the government’s chief scientific adviser, along with David MacKay, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) chief scientific adviser, and John Perkins, scientific adviser to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, are the report’s authors.

They have already made “a number of recommendations” to ministers based on findings in the report, a Decc spokesman told the Guardian newspaper.

Some of the alternative reactors can burn plutonium “waste” as fuel. GE Hitachi is in discussions with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and with Decc to construct two of its Prism fast reactors to burn some of the 100 tonnes of plutonium at Sellafield, helping resolve the waste controversies. The billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson is among those who have expressed support for fast reactors.

The report is expected to be published in the next few months.

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