Russia’s energy dominance targeted by G7 nuclear deal

The deal – reached during the G7 summit in Japan – was presented by the UK, US, Canada, France and Japan as a strategy to push Russia out of the international nuclear energy market.

The five nations have agreed to leverage their civil nuclear power capabilities to undermine Russia’s grip on energy supply chains and cut off a significant source of funding for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said that the agreement was reached at the Nuclear Energy Forum at the G7 meeting in the Japanese town of Sapporo.

The deal will see the five countries collaborating in activities related to uranium extraction, conversion, enrichment and fabrication to “establish a level playing field” to compete more effectively against “predatory suppliers”.

Officials said: “This agreement will support the stable supply of fuels for the needs of today, as well as guarantee the safe and secure development and deployment of fuels for the advanced reactors of tomorrow”. 

Currently, nuclear power stations provide around 15 per cent of the UK’s electricity supply. However, the government has expressed its goal of increasing this ratio to 25 per cent by 2050.

“The UK has been at the very heart of global efforts to support Ukraine, defeat Putin and ensure neither him nor anyone like him can ever think they can hold the world to ransom over their energy again,” said UK energy security secretary Grant Shapps. 

“This is the next vital step; uniting with other countries to show Putin that Russia isn’t welcome anymore and in shoring up our global energy security by using a reliable international supply of nuclear fuel from safe, secure sources.

“This is one side of the equation. The other is the need to invest in clean, cheap and secure energy sources and our ‘Powering Up Britain’ plan will do just that.” 

At the summit, the G7 nations also agreed to accelerate the phase-out of unabated fossil fuels and agreed to work together to stop new unabated coal plants being constructed. 

In January of this year, the UK launched a Nuclear Fuel Fund to provide up to £75m to back the government’s ambition to secure approximately 24GW of nuclear power by 2050.

Over the past few months, National Grid has allowed extensions for ageing power stations in light of the current difficulties faced by the power sector.

Last month, Centrica announced it had delayed the closing of two UK nuclear power stations by two years, amid turbulence and high prices in the gas and power markets following the invasion of Ukraine.

Two other plants, at Drax’s site in North Yorkshire and one at West Burton in Lincolnshire, were also scheduled to be retired but had their lifespans extended through the winter as a precautionary measure.

In January, the plants were placed on standby as sub-zero temperatures increased electricity demand, although they were ultimately not needed.

Although a part of the G7, Germany did not participate in the deal, as the country has recently shut down its last three nuclear reactors as part of its green energy transition. The country has been looking to leave behind nuclear power since 2002, but the phase-out was accelerated by former chancellor Angela Merkel in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Anti-nuclear activists took to the streets of Germany on Saturday evening to celebrate the closures.

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Original Source: https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2023/04/uk-us-canada-japan-and-france-sign-nuclear-fuel-deal/

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