The UK has set a target of 24GW of new nuclear capacity, approximately 25% of the anticipated electricity demand by 2050. Recent facilitating activity is ongoing in policy and industrial space to lay the foundations for such a monumental infrastructure build out challenge. The establishment of Great British Nuclear set up to “drive rapid expansion of nuclear power at an unprecedented scale and pace” and the formation of a new nuclear skills task force to ensure the UK has the capacity and capability of skills, are two examples. These targets and the associated actions to achieve them, if successful, have the potential to position the UK as one of the best places in the world to deploy nuclear.
Ambitious UK start-up, Equilibrion, has been set up for the sole purpose of delivering nuclear’s role in non-electric applications. The company is working to fill the gap in technical knowledge required to enable nuclear’s role to deliver low-carbon fuels. Application of direct heat, maximising efficiency, full value chain system design, siting and regulatory challenges. Equilibrion will create routes to market for the 24/7, low-carbon, high-capacity heat that nuclear can provide to enable this promising market.
Caroline Longman, Director at Equilibrion noted “the key challenge with deploying nuclear energy at pace is unlocking the billions of pounds of capital investment that is required. Only by connecting future energy markets with commercially and technically viable applications of nuclear energy will we be able to unlock that capital.”
Furthermore, the UK could also be ideally placed to take a global lead in the commercialisation of systems that deploy nuclear energy to produce low-carbon fuels, that can decarbonise our non-electric sectors such as transport, heat and industry. Electricity is the primary focus for our decarbonisation efforts right now, but economically viable routes to decarbonise the other half of our 2050 energy system are hard to come by, we have few alternatives to fossil fuels. Drop-in fuel replacements for aviation and road transport can provide real alternatives to fossil fuels, alongside the production of hydrogen and decarbonising industry through direct process heat. These fuels can deliver mass-scale decarbonisation but require vast amounts of energy for their production and arguably nuclear energy is the only realistic source of primary energy to support production at the scale needed.
Providing technological updates Longman added “the technologies that need to be bought together for this to be a reality already exist and at Equilibrion we are working to deliver the integrated systems that can unlock commercial investment. Nuclear energy is well-suited to powering fuel production systems due to its always on nature and high capacity, which complements the demands of the fuel production. We believe that nuclear energy will be a leading energy source in the production of drop in fuels in the future and make a significant impact on the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors, such as aviation.”
The UK is ideally placed to take a leading role in developing the role of nuclear energy for decarbonising our transport, heat and industrial sectors. We have the opportunity to develop our own supply chains and build the capacity, capability and knowledge to expand the role of nuclear beyond electricity. In addition, when considering a global application, the opportunity for UK industry is immense.
To find out more and hear Equilibrion discuss further how the company will support the delivery of system-wide decarbonisation from nuclear energy, come to Foresight Nuclear Live in London on November 9th.