SONE Newsletter 293 – January 2024

Posted by Wade Allison on 16 January 2024 in Newsletters

Tagged with: COP28, EDF, France, HALEU, Moltex, Shipping, Sizewell, Tom Greatrex, Zion Lights.

This month

It is GO for Sizewell C construction to start, 15 Jan 2024!

Green light for construction phase as Sizewell C triggers Development Consent Order:

And a proper nuclear programme announced too

The UK Government announcement may be read here:

Tom Greatrex writes on behalf of the NIA:

The headline commitment, to explore a further large-scale project after Sizewell C, meaning that “the UK will look to deploy both SMRs and further large-scale nuclear in parallel over the next decade, providing the supply chain the certainty it needs to invest in skills and local communities” should end the absurd pretension that we should build 24 GW (and more) with just large or just small nuclear. We need them both to maximise likely sites and our expertise. Even more significantly is the end of the “one at a time” approach to nuclear projects.

News of UK AGR plant extensions

EDF, as manager of Britain’s eight nuclear power stations, said it would make a decision on whether to extend the life of the four plants with advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGR) – Torness, Heysham 1 and 2, and Hartlepool – by the end of the year. This would require regulatory approval. A spokesperson for the company is quoted as saying that it would depend on plant inspections, adding the extensions would not be long but “incremental”.

Two questions: Is graphite ageing being reconsidered? Or is it being ignored in the light of geopolitical pressure? Geopolitical pressure has a poor track record in promoting a heavy ill-considered reliance on energy supplied by the weather. Those plant inspections will be crucial.

From COP28

Richard Ollington, member of SONE, attended the UAE Meeting itself. He writes:

The nuclear industry is mastering the COP process and the world’s climate delegates are starting to take notice. Where COP26 in Glasgow had only one nuclear booth on show, COP28 in the UAE featured at least seven as well as a prestigious two-day Net Zero Nuclear summit. The industry is making itself heard on and off the stage. Behind the scenes the nuclear industry is speaking with heads of states and secured 25 countries to signup to a pledge to triple global nuclear capacity by 2050. All eyes are now on COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Over the next year I expect the nuclear industry will be directing efforts on signing up more countries to its tripling pledge and including more nuclear-supportive wording in the official COP text.

A full report by Thomas J Grant of the American Nuclear Society is posted as a SONE article here: with thanks.

Other news items

From Moltex in Canada and MoltexFlex in UK

A patent has been granted in Canada for advanced nuclear power company Moltex Energy Canada’s spent nuclear fuel recycling process that converts uranium oxide fuel into molten salt reactor fuel.

Meanwhile MoltexFLEX has a signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with EEC_UAE, The MOU was signed by His Excellency Mohammed Al Hammadi and MoltexFLEX CEO David Landon, in the presence of the British Ambassador to the UAE Edward Hobart. The purpose of the MOU is to jointly investigate deployment of the FLEX reactor in the UAE, the wider Gulf region, and beyond. It will focus on electricity generation and heat applications, looking particularly at decarbonising industries such as steel production, hydrogen production, and desalination. “We are delighted to sign an MoU with such a prestigious member of the global nuclear community, and to announce it against a backdrop of worldwide collaboration on fighting climate change,” said Landon.


NuScale is one of the contenders to build SMRs in UK. Unfortunately, their plan to build the first commercial on in Utah has been withdrawn. The NY Stock Market took fright and its price collapsed, but has since recovered substantially. We can expect such turbulence in the next decades with so many start-ups in the field. For the immediate future the firm has some big backers and is repositioning itself:

A press release says more:


This lead-cooled Advanced Modular Reactor reports news


France is set to build eight new nuclear plants on top of six already announced, the energy minister has said, arguing more reactors are needed to hit carbon reduction targets.

HALEU fuel

The extra enrichment of High Assay Low Enriched Uranium fuel, up to 20% instead of the regular 5%, offers a significantly reduced size of reactor core. Many of the new compact reactors are designed to take full advantage of this. The problem has been that such fuel is presently only commercially available in Russia. However, in future it is to be produced, not only in the United States, but in UK too.

Enthusiasm for nuclear powered shipping

Independent international commentators in the shipping industry are hoping that nuclear-powered shipping is going to get serious in 2024.

“And the big one. I hope that in 2024, at least one big shipowning company – it will have to be a big one, for this – will order a string of nuclear-powered containerships. Because we need them.”
Note: “big”, “string”, “need”. This will happen soon, but who? and when?

Launch of NEMO – Nuclear Energy Maritime Organisation

COREPOWER tells us:

At the IAEA FNPP Symposium in Vienna in October where 200 joined from around the world to discuss how standards for floating nuclear power could be developed to meet the expected timelines for deployment, we announced our intention to launch NEMO (Nuclear Energy Maritime Organisation) as a new trade association for those involved in FNPPs.

The aim is to obtain NGO status at IAEA and IMO during the coming year so that we have an effective lobby organisation that can do the things we cannot do as private companies.

We have had substantial interest in membership from vendors, shipping, yards, ports, maritime and nuclear organisations and expect to have a good group of members signing up this year.

We aim to split the work of NEMO into two streams initially, focused on the IAEA in one and the IMO in the other. Members will be asked to join working groups around specific missions to get FNPPs on the agenda at these IGOs and to support member states in shaping standards.

The website will be up in a few weeks.

Zion Lights asks a good question

What does it mean to be “pro-nuclear”? It’s not about belief, or even being a paid-up member of SONE! Then she offers a sensible answer


“Oppenheimer” I watched it. I thought that I should. I was not impressed, even by the production. Over its three hours it switched back and forth with no indication of time sequence. I could not imagine how the superficial and incoherent story line, as presented, could hold the attention of a modern audience. Obviously, the production was not intended to interest an audience like me. Only a few of the characters were identified and it was largely devoid of science. Perhaps other members of SONE got something from it?

Oliver Stone’s film “Nuclear Now” has been highly acclaimed by responsible people, but I have not seen it. Perhaps others have.

Other notices

The SONE website now shows details of its officers and committee members on its “About” page.

Also, we will be inviting interest in visits to nuclear plants and other sites. These will depend on the number of people who sign up. Expect to hear more!

Printed books available directly (or on eBay) from Marie Zabell, £10 + postage.
“Radiation and Reason: The Science on a Culture of Fear” (2009)
“Nuclear is for Life: A Cultural Revolution” (2015).
You can email Marie via

Wade Allison
15 January 2024