The UK Government has made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. Achieving this goal may demand a significant expansion of nuclear power and the Government has been exploring some very challenging scenarios with up to 75 GWe of nuclear capacity by 2050. Prior to establishing a national R&D programme, the Government commissioned the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and the Dalton Nuclear Institute (DNI) to lead a preliminary R&D programme to fill in some gaps that have been identified. This initial R&D included a programme of work on Strategic Assessment, which will look at possible future energy and nuclear deployment scenarios to identify the important constraints and limitations. The nuclear expansion scenarios envisage a new build programme based on a Light Water Reactor (LWR) fleet and in some of these scenarios the LWRs are at some point replaced by a fleet of fast reactors with recycle that would allow a self-sustaining fuel cycle independent of world uranium supplies. This paper focuses on the high level conclusions that arise from the fast reactor scenarios studied. The high level conclusions relate to constraints on timescales for expansion of nuclear capacity and technical specifications for fuel cycle and waste management plants. In particular the work illustrates how the driving factors for fast reactor deployment have changed since the UK was last involved seriously in fast reactor development work in the mid-1990s.
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Dalton Nuclear Institute