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Report reveals how advanced nuclear plants can accelerate the United Kingdom’s path to net zero

Posted on 06 December 2023

Report reveals how advanced nuclear plants can accelerate the United Kingdom’s path to net zero

Report reveals how advanced nuclear plants can accelerate the United Kingdom’s path to net zero

WARRINGTON, England—December 6, 2023 – X-Energy UK Holdings, Ltd (“X-energy”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of X-Energy Reactor Company, LLC, today released Beyond Electricity, a new report from nuclear heat applications specialist Equilibrion detailing how the United Kingdom can accelerate its progress to net zero emissions with advanced nuclear plants.

The report summarises work undertaken in Northeast England’s Teesside as a case study. High-temperature steam (565°c) from advanced reactors can be used to replace fossil-fuel-generated heat in process industries like chemicals, or to produce hydrogen or clean jet fuels. It can also help improve the efficiency of technologies designed to strip carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The report highlights that the region, with its strong industrial base, has a major demand for high temperature heat and steam and is building the infrastructure to support a range of net zero industries.

X-energy, working in partnership with Cavendish Nuclear, is planning a fleet of up to 40 of its advanced small modular Xe-100 power reactors in the UK, creating thousands of high-quality jobs in construction and operations. X-energy is proposing to develop a £multi-billion 12-reactor plant at Hartlepool, to be ready by the early 2030s.

X-energy’s intrinsically safe advanced small modular reactor (“SMR”) and TRISO-X fuel greatly expands applications and markets for deployment of nuclear technology relative to other SMRs and conventional nuclear. Its high-temperature gas reactor (“HTGR”) technology can support broad industrial use applications through its high-temperature heat and steam output. In addition, it can integrate into and address the needs of both large and regional electricity systems through more efficient load ramping and can support intermittent renewable (solar and wind) and other clean energy options with reliable baseload generation.

“This is a huge opportunity for Teesside and the country as a whole.  There is a skilled nuclear workforce, with decades of experience of high temperature gas reactor technology, already in place at Hartlepool Power Station and the plant will be reaching the end of its life just as our project entered development and construction,” said Carol Tansley, X-energy’s Vice President of UK New Build Projects. “We can provide high quality local jobs and the broadest range of decarbonisation options for the area’s industrial base, and then use that experience to benefit similar regions across the UK.”

“Nuclear energy offers a major boost to industrial clusters seeking to rapidly reduce emissions and improve competitiveness by providing stable, local, low-carbon energy with long-term price certainty,” said Dr. Philip Rogers, Director at Equilibrion. “The opportunities on Teesside are clear, and with another five large industrial clusters around England and Wales, the potential national socio-economic benefits are huge, enabling long-term, economy-wide decarbonisation of transport and industry.”

Electricity use is responsible for less than a quarter of the UK’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, whereas demand from heat and transport represent more than twice the amount. 

X-energy already has a project underway on the U.S. Gulf Coast which will produce high-temperature heat and power for the Seadrift, Texas, manufacturing facility of the materials science company Dow. Construction on X-energy’s four-reactor project in Texas is expected to begin in 2026 and to be completed by the end of this decade.  The project is focused on providing the Seadrift site with safe, reliable, zero carbon emissions power and steam.

The first Xe-100 plant in the UK is slated to be a fast follower. Teesside is already a strong advocate of decarbonisation, with a target of being the first net zero cluster by 2040

Source: X-energy.com

Joanne Leng MBE, Chief Executive at NOF added her comments on the press release. "The UK needs a balanced pathway to achieve net zero by 2050 with nuclear being a key contributor.

The roll out of innovative nuclear technologies by NOF member X-energy, includes the development of their Advanced Small Modular Reactors. These developments and their planned investment in Teesside mean this region can take a lead in technology development for the nuclear industry with the supply chain benefitting greatly.

These advanced reactors can be largely built in factories to minimise costly on-site construction, this is why Teesside and the North East of England is so well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity as our strong, capable supply chain includes a plethora of specialist engineering companies and fabricators.

NOF and its members have for many years worked across the nuclear industry and their level of experience is second to none. The evolution of the nuclear industry in the UK, embracing advanced small modular reactors means this region stays ahead of the game as industry pioneers but at the same time contributes to both UK energy security as well as Net Zero."