Enel to collaborate with Newcleo on LFR development

14 March 2023

Newcleo, the UK-headquartered developer of small modular lead-cooled fast reactors (LFRs), has signed an agreement with Italian utility Enel to cooperate on Newcleo's power plant projects, including taking a stake in the first plant.

Newcleo's LFR-AS-30 reactor design (Image: Newcleo)

Under the agreement, Enel will collaborate with Newcleo on projects related to its LFR technology, providing specialised expertise through sharing a number of the company's qualified personnel. In view of the support provided, Newcleo has committed to securing an option for Enel as first investor in its initial power plant, that will be constructed outside of Italy, which has a moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants.

Enel has strong expertise in nuclear technology and currently has more than 3.3 GW of nuclear capacity in Spain, as well as holding a stake of around 33% in Slovak company Slovensk√© elektr√°rne which recently connected to the grid the first of two turbine generators at unit 3 of the Mochovce nuclear power plant.

"Innovation is crucial to the development of technologies that can secure clean, reliable, affordable energy that is as independent as possible from geopolitical factors," said Enel CEO Francesco Starace. "For this reason, we continue to explore any area of the energy spectrum. This collaboration with Newcleo is the latest example of our tireless search for the best companies to join us on our journey towards a clean future and we look forward to supporting Newcleo in its challenging but promising roadmap to provide zero-emission electricity in a safe, affordable and sustainable way."

"I am delighted that Enel has chosen to partner with Newcleo," said Newcleo CEO Stefano Buono. "They are showing great foresight in being one of the first energy companies to appreciate and support our sustainable strategy and its impact on our collective future.

"Newcleo's fast reactor technology is the necessary step in the nuclear industry to enable multiple recycling of already extracted uranium and a massive reduction in nuclear waste. In addition, the use of lead opens the possibility to safer and cheaper reactor operation."

Newcleo - which was launched in 2021 and has since raised a total of EUR400 million (USD429 million) - signed a framework agreement with ENEA, the Italian national agency for new technologies, energy and sustainable economic development, in March last year. The company plans to build an electrical prototype of the LFR system, which will not use radioactive materials or nuclear fuel, to allow the study of thermo-dynamic, mechanical and functional performances. The joint activities also include the design of an Accelerator Driven System, which will make it possible to reduce the volume of existing nuclear waste.

The first step of Newcleo's delivery roadmap will be the design and construction of the first-of-a-kind 30 MWe LFR to be deployed in France by 2030, rapidly followed by a 200 MWe commercial unit in the UK.

At the same time, Newcleo will directly invest in a mixed uranium/plutonium oxide (MOX) plant to fuel its reactors. In June 2022, Newcleo announced it had contracted France's Orano for feasibility studies on the establishment of a MOX production plant.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News