The security challenge for nuclear energy

The UK imports the uranium it needs to fuel its nuclear power stations. This makes us vulnerable to global price fluctuations and to geopolitical disturbances in the countries from which we import.

The challenge

Our uranium is sourced from a range of countries, including many that are not major suppliers of other fuels such as oil and gas.

While the price of uranium can fluctuate, this is a relatively small proportion of the cost of electricity generated by nuclear power. Therefore, fluctuations in the price of uranium do not lead to major volatility in the cost of electricity generated by nuclear power stations.

The solution

Uranium is not a rare metal – its reserves compare roughly to those of tin. The UK nuclear energy industry can source its uranium from many different regions, spreading the risk to security of supply from unstable prices or other disruptions.

Uranium has a very high energy density: one kilogram can yield about 500,000 megajoules (MJ) of energy. This means that even in the quantities required for large-scale electricity generation, uranium is easy to transport and stockpile as a buffer against potential future supply disruptions or price fluctuations.