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Fast Reactors

Volume 981: debated on Monday 24 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy, of the current stockpile of plutonium in the United Kingdom, what he estimates to be its equivalent in terms of oil or coal if utilised in a fast reactor.

The present United Kingdom stockpile of plutonium—of around 10 tonnes—together with the depleted uranium with which the plant would be fed, would fuel some 2000MW(E) of fast reactor plant which, over its lifetime, would generate electricity equivalent to 125 million tonnes of power station coal or 475 million barrels of oil. Part of the depleted uranium would be transmuted to plutonium in the fission process and some of this could be used to fuel further fast reactor plant. The bred plutonium would in time represent a much greater coal equivalent. For example, additional fast reactor plant could be installed such that the total electricity generated over a 50-year period could be equivalent to some 600 million tonnes of power station coal or 2,300 million barrels of oil.