PMQs: Johnson highlights Labour 'u-turn' on nuclear power
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EDF, the French owned-energy giant, is now considering alternatives to the Russian fuel used to power Sizewell B in Suffolk. The plant supplies around three percent of UK electricity and is reportedly the only nuclear plant in the country which uses Russian uranium, according to EDF.
The company purchased uranium stocks prior to the Russian invasion launched back in mid-February, which the huge station is currently running off.
It is also set to be refuelled with more Russian stocks bought before the war when these run out too.
But once the two years-worth of uranium supply stocks run dry, EDF has said it could find “alternative options for future refuelling”.
An EDF spokesman said: “EDF is complying with all the British and French Governments’ requirements regarding sanctions imposed on Russia.
“The fuel from the AGR [advanced gas-cooled reactor] fleet does not originate from Russia and any fuel at Sizewell B that has originated from Russia was sourced well before the conflict commenced.
“We will not need any input from Russia to run our plants for at least the next two years, and we are considering alternative options for future refuelling beyond that.”
The UK has already announced a plan to scupper energy links with Putin after pledging to phase out oil by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, the EU continues to mull over an oil ban as opposition from Hungary has prevented the bloc from slapping down an embargo.
Britain has also said it is eyeing up a ban on the Kremlin’s gas, but it only gets five percent of its total gas supplies from Russia.
The EU, which gets 40 percent of its gas from Russia, has also yet to propose an outright embargo on the energy source.
But according to research from Energy Monitor, slashing nuclear ties with Moscow could be even more difficult.
Russia is one of the biggest uranium exporters on the planet and is responsible for around 40 percent of global capacity for uranium enrichment.
Uranium enrichment is the process which creates effective nuclear fuel out of mined uranium.
And the EU only produces five percent of its uranium domestically.
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But one alternative supplier the UK and EU could look to include is Australia.
In 2019, the country held 27.5 percent of the world’s recoverable resources of uranium, according to data from GlobalData Mining.
And Kazakhstan had around 14.8 percent, while Canada had 9.2 percent.
EDF’s Sizewell B plant, which is the only one out of eight reactors operated by the French-owned company due to stay open past 2028, could be tempted by these suppliers instead.
The remaining seven plants are set to be decommissioned.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has plans to replace these with eight new reactors by 2050, which he laid out in the new nuclear strategy.
The plan is to increase nuclear power capacity to 24Gigawatts by 2050, which would account for 25 percent of the projected electricity demand.
EDF also has another planned project in the UK, Sizewell C in Suffolk.
Together with the planned Hinkley Point C in Somerset, these could provide about 6.5GW of power.
But campaigners have raised concerns over new nuclear projects like Sizewell C.
Campaign group Stop Sizewell C have slammed the plan for the new power station for being “risky, expensive and in no one’s interest except EDF’s”.
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