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Nuclear Power Stations

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 51802, tabled on 3 November 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether he has made an assessment of the potential merits of using thorium rather than plutonium in nuclear power plants.

Answered on

8 November 2016

BEIS maintains an interest in the global potential of thorium nuclear fuels.

In 2012, DECC published an initial comparative assessment of thorium and uranium technologies in nuclear power electricity generation. This is available online from:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thorium-and-uranium-fuel-cycles-comparison-by-the-national-nuclear-laboratory

BEIS also draws on the expertise of its national laboratories to model nuclear scenarios that include the use of thorium. These are used to inform research and development needs on future nuclear fuel cycles. An overview of these are included in the document “Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap: Future Pathways”, which is available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nuclear-energy-research-and-development-roadmap-future-pathways

Plutonium plays a different functional role in the design of proposed nuclear fuels than thorium does and would only be used in conjunction with thorium, rather than in place of it. For this reason, BEIS has undertaken no assessment of replacing plutonium with thorium.

Named day
Named day questions only occur in the House of Commons. The MP tabling the question specifies the date on which they should receive an answer. MPs may not table more than five named day questions on a single day.