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How does Nuclear energy in the UK work ? [ANSWERED]

Why nuclear power?

In light of high global gas prices, we need to ensure Britain’s future energy supply is bolstered by reliable, affordable, low carbon power that is generated in this country.

New nuclear is not only an important part of our plans to ensure greater energy independence, but to create high-quality jobs and drive economic growth.

Large-scale nuclear is a very low-carbon technology, which provides the reliable baseload power we need at scale from a very small land area; Hinkley Point C, for example, will power around 6 million homes from a just a quarter of a square mile.

Is nuclear power safe?

Yes. As confirmed by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, nuclear power plants ‘are among the safest and most secure facilities in the world,’ and nuclear power is one of the safest forms of energy generation.

For context, the annual radiation dose to an adult living beside a new nuclear plant is much less than taking one trans-Atlantic flight or eating 100g of Brazil nuts – neither of which have heavy radiation.

In the UK, we have a well-respected regulatory system which reflects international best practice, and an industry which places an extremely high value on safety, achieving world-leading health and safety standards every time it is examined.

Nuclear power has operated in the UK for decades without incident, and all UK nuclear operators are answerable to robust and independent regulators – the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the appropriate environmental regulator. If the ONR judged that any nuclear installation was not safe or secure it would not be allowed to operate.

How does nuclear power work?

Traditional nuclear power plants use heat produced during nuclear fission to produce steam. The steam is used to spin large turbines that generate electricity. Nuclear power plants heat water.

In nuclear fission, atoms are split apart to form smaller atoms, releasing energy. Fission takes place inside the reactor of a nuclear power plant. At the centre of the reactor is the core, which contains uranium fuel split into ceramic pellets.

Each ceramic pellet produces about the same amount of energy as 150 gallons of oil. These energy-rich pellets are stacked end-to-end in 12-foot metal fuel rods. A bundle of fuel rods, some with hundreds of rods, is called a fuel assembly. A reactor core contains many fuel assemblies.

Both the Committee on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency have highlighted the role for new nuclear electricity generating capacity, in partnership with renewables, as a key element of achieving net zero. A recent report by the UN Economic Commission for Europe was clear that “the world’s climate objectives will not be met if nuclear technologies are excluded” from future decarbonisation.

What about nuclear waste disposal?

The government is committed to using Geological Disposal Facilities (GDF) to dispose of nuclear waste.

GDF is internationally recognised as the best long-term solution for dealing with radioactive waste.

We need a sustainable solution for the radioactive waste that has already accumulated over many decades. It’s currently stored safely in facilities around the UK, but this isn’t a long term solution and we will be moving towards geological disposal for new and existing waste.

Local engagement events are underway for local people to find out more about a GDF and what it would mean for the community that hosts it.

A GDF is a multi-billion-pound infrastructure investment and will provide skilled jobs and benefits to the community that hosts it for more than 100 years. It is also likely to involve major investments in local transport facilities and other infrastructure.

What is the government currently doing to support nuclear power?

The strategy will see a significant acceleration of nuclear, with an ambition of up to 24GW by 2050 to come from this safe, clean, and reliable source of power. This would represent up to around 25% of our projected electricity demand. Subject to technology readiness from industry, Small Modular Reactors will form a key part of the nuclear project pipeline.

A new government body, Great British Nuclear, will be set up immediately to bring forward new projects, backed by substantial funding, and we will launch the £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund this month. We will work to progress a series of projects as soon as possible this decade, including Wylfa site in Anglesey. This could mean delivering up to 8 reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade, accelerating nuclear in Britain.

We are committed to building the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which will provide 3.2 GW of secure, low carbon electricity for around 60 years to power around 6 million homes and provide 25,000 job opportunities.

EDF are the lead investor building Hinkley Point C. They are targeting the first reactor coming online in June 2026. The developer is fully funding the project.

We have been in constructive negotiations on the Sizewell C project in Suffolk since January 2021, as the most advanced potential project in the UK. If approved Sizewell C would be a replica of Hinkley Point C, providing electricity for 6 million homes, and creating thousands of high value jobs nationwide.

In January we provided £100 million of funding for the Sizewell C developer to invest in the project to help bring it to maturity, attract investors, and advance to the next phase in negotiations.

As set out in the 2021 Spending Review, up to £1.7 billion of funding is available to support approval of at least one new nuclear power plant this Parliament.

The Nuclear Energy (Financing) Act received Royal Assent last week. The Act will enable use of the Regulated Asset Base funding model for new nuclear projects, which will unblock obstacles to developing these projects and cut the cost of financing them.

The Advanced Nuclear Fund  includes up to £210 million announced in November 2021 for Rolls-Royce to develop the design for one of the world’s first Small Modular Reactors. This could be deployed in the UK in the early 2030s to turbocharge UK nuclear capacity.

We are also establishing a new Future Nuclear Enabling Fund of up to £120 million to provide targeted support for new nuclear and make it easier for new companies to enter the market.  

What are Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)?

Small Modular Reactors are smaller versions of conventional water-cooled nuclear reactors. Designs come in different sizes but have power output roughly a fifth to a third of the larger and more traditional reactors at Hinkley Point C.

There are a wide range of new reactor technologies under development around the world. Many designs have the potential for a range of applications beyond low-carbon electricity generation, including production of hydrogen, direct heat for industrial or domestic use or nuclear waste management.

The UK government believes that SMRs could play an important role alongside large nuclear as a low-carbon energy source to support a secure, affordable decarbonised energy system. They can be easily manufactured away from the sites where they are used and deployed where needed and could be a transformative technology for the UK’s industrial heartlands.

What are Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs)?

AMRs are the next generation of nuclear power. These reactors use novel and innovative fuels, coolants, and technologies to generate extreme heat for industrial applications as well as for electricity to power people’s homes.

They take advantage of the same modular-building principles as SMRs, making them more flexible to deploy.

We have committed up to £385 million in the Advanced Nuclear Fund (ANF) to support SMRs and AMR development. This includes up to £210 million awarded as a grant to Rolls-Royce SMR to develop their SMR design, which will be matched by industry.

This fund will be part of the measures the government will take to inform investment decisions during the next Parliament on further nuclear projects.

The ANF also includes funding for progressing plans for an ambitious Advanced Modular Research, Development & Demonstration (RD&D) programme which aims to enable an AMR demonstration by the early 2030s, at the latest. We recently announced that High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs) will be the technology focus for this programme.

How long does it take for a nuclear plant to come online?

The timeframe for new nuclear projects coming online varies considerably depending on a range of factors.

Large-scale nuclear projects do have long-construction periods, but Small Modular Reactors for example could be deployable during the early 2030s, with innovation in manufacturing and construction having the potential to bring down build time further.

What’s happening to the older nuclear power stations?

EDF, which operates all of the UK’s Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGRs) as well as Sizewell B, have extended the lifetime of many of the power stations built in the 1970s and ‘80s in the UK.

However, when nuclear stations reach the end of their generating capability, they move into the next phase of their lives which is to remove the fuel and to prepare for decommissioning.

This process is handled by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), a government agency with high-level technical expertise in handling this process in a safe and secure manner.

There are currently 6 generating stations across England and Scotland operated by EDF Energy. Sizewell B, the UK’s only Pressurised Water Reactor, is expected to continue generation past 2028.

The AGR stations at Torness, Hinkley Point B, Heysham 1, Heysham 2 and Hartlepool will end generation between 2022 and 2028.

Two other AGR stations, Dungeness B and Hunterston B, recently ended generation to move into the final defueling phase and then decommissioning.

In terms of future use for these sites, the NDA have a clear mission to safely decommission them, freeing up land for future uses.

The NDA welcomes engagement from all stakeholders with a potential future use of land and have a history of engagement and land transfer across their portfolio.

Wiring Matters – Issue 89 – March 2022

Lets take a quick look at what you can expect to find in the Mach 2022 (Issue 89) of Wiring matters.

Resistance readings for Step 3 of the ring final circuit test

Since the First Edition of IET Guidance Note 3 Inspection and Testing, the guidance has been that, for both Step 2 and Step 3 of the test for continuity of ring final circuit conductors, the readings at each point on the circuit will be substantially the same, disregarding parallel paths. But is this always the case? This article digs a little deeper to find out.

DC Realisation in the 21st Century

This article is part two of a four-part series taking us through the history of DC evolution to the benefits of modern-day application.

Insulation Piercing Connectors

There has been a lot of discussion recently on the use of insulation piercing connectors (IPC) as their use has become increasingly popular on consumer installations, particularly for EV charging point installers. In this article we look at the use of this type of product.

Read Here

You can read the full magazine here – https://electrical.theiet.org/wiring-matters/years/2022/89-march-2022/

Sungrow Supplies Statera’s 362 MW/391 MWh Energy Storage Project in the UK

Sungrow, the global leading inverter solution supplier for renewables, announced that the Company partners with Statera Energy, a market leader in the provision of flexibility to the UK grid, to supply a 362 MW/391 MWh energy storage project in the UK. The first phase of the project was grid-connected in Q1, 2022, while the rest will be brought online this year as well.

The independent power producer Statera Energy will adopt Sungrow’s ST3727kWh-3450UD-MV high-efficiency turnkey energy storage system solution with enhanced safety to develop subsidy-free energy storage capable of discharging power at times of peak demand or under-production in multiple suburbs across the UK. More importantly, the project will help the UK meet its Capacity Market objective of achieving long-term security of supply and contribute to the offsetting of the risk of its increasing reliance on wind generation by strengthening the National Grid’s Dynamic Containment frequency response service.

With UK’s electricity system currently experiencing lower inertia and larger, more numerous losses than ever before. Faster acting frequency response products are needed because system frequency is moving away from 50 Hz more rapidly as a consequence of imbalances.

On January 27 of 2021, UK electricity system operator National Grid began allowing the stacking of revenues in parts of the Balancing Mechanism which has been of significant importance to battery asset owners. The National Grid expects the additional flexibility and revenue stacking to increase the efficiency of battery assets delivering the service, and increase competition which would, in turn, reduce costs to the consumer.

We have partnered with Sungrow because of its proven track record, the quality and the integrated nature of its product offering. Statera believes that battery storage will play a pivotal role in facilitating the transition to low carbon generation and will continue to work with Sungrow on coming projects in the UK in 2022,” said Tom Vernon, Managing Director of Statera Energy Limited.

Since opening its Milton Keynes branch in 2014, the local team of Sungrow UK, a subsidy of Sungrow, has realized significant traction in the United Kingdom with tens of energy storage applications. In addition, Europe’s largest energy storage project, the 100 MW/100 MWh Minety plant with Sungrow’s 1500V energy storage system solutions has been operating stably and efficiently for about one year.

Image – Sungrow Supplies Statera’s 362 MW/391 MWh Energy Storage Project in the UK

Tenfold expansion in chargepoints by 2030 as government drives EV revolution

The UK’s charging network has been given a huge boost, as government unveils plans to support the UK market to reach 300,000 public electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints by 2030 – equivalent to almost 5 times the number of fuel pumps on our roads today.

Backed by £1.6 billion, under the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, charging will become easier and cheaper than refuelling a petrol or diesel car, while new legal requirements on operators will see drivers of EVs able to pay by contactless, compare charging prices and find nearby chargepoints via apps.

The new strategy sets out the government’s aim to expand the UK’s charging network, so that it is robust, fair and covers the entire country – as well as improving the consumer experience at all chargepoints, with significant support focused on those without access to off-street parking, and on fast charging for longer journeys.

£500 million will be invested to bring high quality, competitively priced public chargepoints to communities across the UK. This includes a £450 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, which will boost projects such as EV hubs and innovative on-street charging, so those without driveways don’t miss out on cleaner transport.

A pilot scheme for the LEVI fund launching today will see local authorities bid for a share of £10 million in funding, allowing selected areas to work with industry and boost public charging opportunities.

Meanwhile, the LEVI funding includes up to £50 million to fund staff to work on local challenges and public chargepoint planning – ensuring that any development complements all other zero emission forms of travel, such as walking and cycling.

The existing £950 million Rapid Charging Fund will support the rollout of at least 6,000 high powered super-fast chargepoints across England’s motorways by 2035, ensuring the UK continues to lead the Western world in the provision of rapid and ultra-rapid public chargers.

This comes on top of ministers’ pledges to continue addressing any barriers to private sector rollout of chargepoints, such as local councils delaying planning permission and high connection costs.

Ambitious and innovative chargepoint operators are already committed to installing an additional 15,000 rapid chargepoints across England’s entire road network – a quadrupling of the current offer – and over 100,000 on-street chargepoints by 2025.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

We’re powering ahead with plans to help British people go electric, with our expanding charging network making journeys easier right across the country.

Clean transport isn’t just better for the environment, but is another way we can drive down our dependence on external energy supplies. It will also create new high-skilled jobs for our automotive and energy sectors and ultimately secure more sustainable and affordable motoring for all.

Drivers are at the heart of the revolutionary plan, with rigorous new standards and legislation being introduced to improve people’s experience of using public chargepoints.

The government is mandating that operators provide real-time data about chargepoints. It is ensuring that consumers can compare prices and seamlessly pay for their charging using contactless cards. They will also be able to use apps to find their nearest available chargepoint.

These plans will also require a 99% reliability rate at rapid chargepoints to ensure they are world-class and give consumers confidence in finding chargepoints that work wherever they travel – helping eradicate so-called ‘range anxiety’.

Even with recent trends in electricity prices, EVs still benefit from lower fuel, running and maintenance costs than their petrol and diesel equivalents and the strategy hopes to encourage drivers across the nation to make the switch.

Production costs also continue to fall and some analysts expect purchase price parity with petrol and diesel cars to be reached well within the 2020s.

This forms part of wider government plans to reduce the UK’s reliance on imports of foreign oil, improving the security of our energy supply and reducing the country’s vulnerability to volatility in global energy prices.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

No matter where you live – be that a city centre or rural village, the north, south, east or west of the country – we’re powering up the switch to electric and ensuring no one gets left behind in the process.

The scale of the climate challenge ahead of us all is well known and decarbonising transport is at the very heart of our agenda.

That’s why we’re ensuring the country is EV-fit for future generations by the end of this decade, revolutionising our charging network and putting the consumer first.

The private sector plays a key role in helping the country make the switch to electric and the UK’s most-used charging network company, bp pulse, is today announcing its own plans to spend £1 billion on developing charging infrastructure in the UK, supporting hundreds of new jobs.

Richard Bartlett, Senior Vice President, bp pulse, said:

This £1 billion investment is vital to provide the charging infrastructure the UK needs.  We’re investing to build a world-class network.

This investment allows us to deliver more. More high-speed charging in dedicated hubs and on existing fuel and convenience sites. More home charging services. And crucial enhancements to our digital technology that will make charging fast, easy and reliable.

Alongside the pioneering strategy, the government is additionally launching an automotive roadmap outlining joint government and industry commitments to achieve the decarbonisation of road transport.

This is the first in a series of roadmaps that will be published over the course of the year for each sector of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, showcasing how the UK is delivering on its green commitments.

The roadmap brings together the government’s policies designed to help and support the automotive sector in the shift towards greener transport and will help businesses plan more effectively in the transition to a zero-emission future.

Project launched to support EV chargepoint infrastructure rollout

The Geospatial Commission has today launched a discovery project to explore how location data can be better utilised to support planning and delivery of electric vehicle charge points by local authorities.

The UK is committed to transitioning to electric vehicles (EV) in support of ambitious net zero targets. Local authorities will play a crucial role enabling this transition.

This project will support the approach set out in the government’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, published today by the Department for Transport, which focuses on enabling the rollout of a robust EV charging infrastructure network by 2030. Setting out a vision and approach for EV infrastructure roll-out and expectations of key stakeholders, the Strategy identifies that addressing barriers to data sharing will be important to enable decision making.

Dr Steve Unger, Commissioner at the Geospatial Commission, said:

Location data will play a key role in planning the UK’s transition to electric vehicles and help make net zero a reality. Through this project, the Geospatial Commission will understand the challenges faced by local authorities who wish to exploit location data. By working together, we will be able to unlock the potential for data-driven innovation in transport.

The Geospatial Commission discovery project includes workshops with 10 local authorities to identify challenges and opportunities for better use of location data in the rollout of EV chargepoint infrastructure. This project will be undertaken by technical specialists Frazer-Nash Consultancy.

Matthew Perrin, Digital Services Innovation Lead, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, said:

Geospatial data is vital to planning, installing and running an effective charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. We are really looking forward to working with the Geospatial Commission and local authorities on this important study, providing our expertise in geospatial data and discovery to enable this important step on the UK’s journey to net zero.

Councillor Helen Hayden, Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate from Leeds City Council, said:

Over the last five years, Leeds has taken a range of actions, offering free electric van trials, discounted parking and requiring charge points in new developments, to accelerate our city’s transition to less polluting vehicles.

With figures showing that the number of plug-in vehicles in Leeds has doubled over the last year, it is vitally important that we understand how best to expand and improve access to charging infrastructure for drivers on the go or without private parking. We are therefore excited to be part of this timely project.

The following local authorities are involved in the project:

  1. Oxfordshire County Council
  2. City of York Council
  3. Norfolk County Council
  4. Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  5. West Sussex County Council
  6. Cornwall Council
  7. Kent County Council
  8. Leeds City Council
  9. Wiltshire Council
  10. Cheshire East Council