If Britain is to rely on nuclear power to meet low carbon energy goals, it should use reactor designs that depart from convention and that could include the use of thorium fuel instead of uranium, a report by the government’s top scientific advisers will say.
Besides thorium, the report will urge development of fast reactors that can use nuclear “waste” as fuel. It will also encourage development of fusion, of small “modular” reactors that auger lower costs, and of advances in conventional reactors which are known as “light water reactors” (LWRs), as I reported in The Guardian.
These will all be necessary if the U.K. is to deploy the more nuclear-intensive of four electricity generating scenarios it has sketched out to hit an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
The most ambitious of those plans calls for nuclear to generate 68 percent of the country’s electricity. The others envisage 28, 20 and 10 percent. The share was 18 percent in 2011, the last full year tallied by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).