The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) welcomes the chance to respond to the Business and Trade Committee’s inquiry into export-led growth.
The NIA is the trade association and representative body for the civil nuclear industry in the UK. We represent around 250 companies operating across all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including the current and prospective operators of nuclear power stations, international designers, and vendors of nuclear power stations, and those engaged in decommissioning, waste management and nuclear liabilities management. Members also include nuclear equipment suppliers, engineering and construction firms, nuclear research organisations, and legal, financial and consultancy companies.
Due to the diversity of our membership, our views in this submission will cover high-level, industry-wide matters. Our members may choose to make their own detailed submissions.
- Nuclear fuel presents the UK a historic opportunity to expand exports, bolster allies’ energy security and cut Kremlin revenues. Russia exports billions of dollars of uranium conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication services every year, including to our allies in the United States, France, South Korea, Japan, and countries across Eastern Europe. Russia exported $1.2 billion in enriched uranium to the United States and France alone in 2022.
- The UK is uniquely placed to capture the Russians’ market share because we have room to add extra uranium conversion at Springfields in Lancashire and enrichment capacity at Capenhurst in Cheshire. France and the United States also are planning for capacity expansions, but only with extra British capacity can we close the gap.
- The export opportunity today is worth several hundred million dollars per year for decades, as nuclear reactors are expected to operate for at least 60 years.
- The IEA projects that nuclear capacity must double to reach net zero worldwide by 2050, and all our major allies, bar Germany, plan to expand nuclear capacity.
- The UK therefore has a rare and precious opportunity to help our allies and hurt the Kremlin by securing billions of pounds worth of extra export orders.
- To secure the opportunity, Government must take the following actions to support the export of nuclear fuel and civil nuclear technologies:
- Provide policy certainty that UK reactors will not use any Russian fuel
- Work with our allies to build up enough competitive Western nuclear fuel services capacity that all Western reactors can use all-Western fuel services as soon as possible. A specific date set in consultation with allies would be a helpful signal to countries looking to diversify from Russian fuel.
- Utilise our diplomatic networks to encourage our allies to switch their contracts from Russian to UK fuel.
- The UK has a strategic as well as economic interest in providing this policy certainty to counteract the Russians’ use of nuclear fuel to establish geopolitical leverage over other countries. With this distortion removed, UK suppliers should be able to invest and compete effectively in the nuclear fuel market without major direct UK Government cash investment.
- The NIA would welcome the chance to provide oral evidence to the Business and Trade Committee specifically on the export of nuclear fuel and technologies to displace Russian supplies.
- There is the potential for the deployment and export of domestic SMRs, such as the Rolls-Royce SMR, to generate billions of pounds in export earnings and create another viable Western reactor to displace Russian exports. At present, the Russians are the leading exporter of nuclear reactors worldwide, earning billions of dollars through contracts to build, finance and service nuclear plants for developing countries.
- Lastly, the UK has amongst the most advanced capabilities and expertise in nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management. This is another source of potential export earnings if the Government allows UK companies to import waste from other countries for treatment in the UK, especially where it has no material impact
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