UK industry is uniquely placed to help allies replace use of Russian nuclear fuel

The Government must back urgent investment in UK nuclear capability to cut Russian civil nuclear leverage over our allies, according to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy paper, “Resisting Russia’s Energy War: UK Nuclear Investment for Allied Energy Security”.

Nuclear is the leading source of clean power in the United States, Europe, South Korea and Japan, but all these countries rely heavily on Russian nuclear fuel import, which feeds into its multi-billion-dollar export industry. Without Russian supplies, the world will face a 15% gap in uranium conversion and a 20% shortfall in enrichment supplies, feeding electricity generation for around 100 million people.

The UK is the only country with an operable but inactive uranium conversion facility, at Springfields in Lancashire. Renewed investment supported by Government could reinstate conversion services capability of 6,500 tonnes of uranium per year, creating hundreds of jobs, and securing UK strategic capability in a critical part of the fuel cycle. The UK’s world-leading uranium enrichment facility at Capenhurst in Cheshire has a capacity of 4.5 million Separate Work Units (SWU), around half of the annual shortfall if Russian capability was removed. Fresh investment and orders facilitated by government intervention is necessary to expand and preserve capacity that would otherwise retire.

In addition, developing countries are being pulled into Russia’s energy orbit as they accept Kremlin offers to finance, construct, and support the operation of Russian-designed reactors. Over half (54%) of all nuclear reactors under construction since 2017 are Russian designed, according to the International Energy Agency.

The paper which sets out three key actions that the UK Government should take to tackle Kremlin leverage:

  • Award money from the £75 million Nuclear Fuel Fund this autumn to support re-instating uranium conversion capability at Springfields and preserving uranium enrichment capacity in Capenhurst.
  • Engage with allied governments through the Department for International Trade and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to encourage their utilities to switch to UK nuclear fuel supplies.
  • Facilitate the export viability of a UK alternative to Russian reactors by committing to at least 16 Rolls-Royce SMRs in the UK and raising the UK Export Finance limit so overseas customers can buy UK-flagged reactors.

Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Chair of the APPG On Nuclear Energy, said:

 “Russia’s position is not a historic accident or the happenstance of market forces. It is the deliberate policy of the Russian state to secure energy leverage over its neighbours and fund its war economy through strategic investments and interventions.

“The Western alliance can only cut the Kremlin’s leverage with coordinated strategic interventions of our own. The UK nuclear sector can and must play its vital part in that endeavour.”

Charlotte Nichols MP, Co-Chair of the APPG on Nuclear Energy, said:

“The Government must back urgent investment in UK nuclear capability because there is a strategic value to cutting Western dependency on Russian energy sources beyond what can be achieved in purely commercial decisions.

“Ministers must assume responsibility for bringing the UK’s world-class industrial capabilities fully to bear in defence of the democratic world.”

Virginia Crosbie MP, Chair of the APPG on Small Modular Reactors and Vice-Chair of the APPG on Nuclear Energy, said:

“The UK, and the entire Western Alliance, have a clear strategic and economic interest in offering Western nuclear technology and expertise to counter the Russian civil nuclear offer. This would slash Kremlin export revenues and energy leverage and bring developing nations toward the democratic rules-based order, rather than authoritarian spheres of influence. To do this, Western countries, including the UK, must match Russia’s offer line by line.”

Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, covering Springfields, said:

“Springfields is a jewel of the British nuclear industry, and it should play its part in helping our allies free themselves of the Kremlin’s energy. Bringing back conversion at Springfields means our allies can buy British instead of buying Russian and it means jobs and investment in the local community. I hope ministers move swiftly to get this done.”

Chris Matheson, MP for the City of Chester, covering Capenhurst, said:

“We need to take practical, immediate steps to cut Russian exports and help our allies. Investing in uranium enrichment capacity at Capenhurst is an ideal way to do that: our workforce and our community are ready to do our part. We hope the Government is ready too.”

Read the full report HERE.


 About the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy

The APPG on Nuclear Energy provides a forum for MPs and Peers to engage with leading businesses and organisations that are working to enable the UK to meet its decarbonisation targets through the implementation of civil nuclear projects, and to discuss policy options to support these.

The Group was established in July 2015. It is a cross-party group of MPs and Peers that focuses on raising awareness of and building support for nuclear energy projects that will enable the UK to meet decarbonisation targets.

For further information, please contact:

Jon Woodburn, Public Affairs Executive, Nuclear Industry Association
[email protected]
07803 696 786