What is the Future of Nuclear Power?
Despite countries such as Germany phasing out their nuclear power programme, the use of nuclear power worldwide is growing faster than ever. China is currently building 27 new reactors and plans to build 200 more, to meet the rapidly growing demand for electricity, which is expected to triple by 2050.
In the UK, we face similar challenges, as well as a demanding carbon reduction target set by the European Union. Minister of Energy and Climate Change, Andrea Leadsome, recently made it clear that the Government is supporting new nuclear power initiatives such as the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant and the development of Small Modular Reactors. Objection is still strong, however, and cost is a major factor so ongoing experimentation is essential.
Hinkley Point has been earmarked as the location for a new nuclear power plant proposed by French electric utility company, EDF. EDF has stated that, “the next generation of nuclear power stations are intended to generate secure, affordable, low-carbon electricity over their 60-year lifetimes.” They claim that their EPR (pressurised water reactor) uses approximately 17% less uranium than existing reactors, which means that less fuel is used per unit of electricity generated, lowering the cost and radio-active waste burden. EDF claims that the four proposed EPRs in the UK could generate up to 6.4million kW of electricity, enough to supply around 10 million homes.
Small Modular Reactors
Other options for the future of nuclear energy in the UK exist though and Prof Ian Fells, emeritus professor of energy conversion at the Newcastle University, has stated that, “problems continue to dog the Hinkley Point C nuclear station as costs have escalated from £5bn to £24.6bn. It will be much better to build a series of Small Modular Reactors using the British nuclear supply chain.”
Modules are prefabricated in factories and, being more compact than current power plants, can be shipped out to areas which previously would have been unsuitable for nuclear operations. They can also be used in conjunction with renewable power sources. Small Modular Reactors are still under development so more research is required but this kind of progress in nuclear power could mean it continues into the future as a low-carbon power generation option.
These kinds of developments in the industry are possible because of radiation resistant equipment made here in the UK. AML makes stepper motors that can be used in high radiation environments for a large range of nuclear applications. Call us now on 01903 884141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.