Britain opens nuclear fuel fund with aim to cut reliance on Russia

FILE PHOTO: Wind turbines are seen behind Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station in West Kilbride, Scotland

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Monday its 75-million-pound ($90.5 million) fund aimed at helping boost domestic production of nuclear fuel for power plants and cutting reliance on Russian uranium supplies was now open for applications.

The fund, announced in July, will award grants to businesses involved in uranium conversion, a key stage in the process of creating nuclear fuel from the metal. It will remain open for applications from Monday until Feb. 20.

Russia currently owns around 20% of global uranium conversion capacity.

"Record high global gas prices, caused by Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, have highlighted the need for more home-grown renewable energy, but also UK generated nuclear power – building more plants, and developing domestic fuel capability," Minister for Energy and Climate Graham Stuart said.

Up to 13 million pounds from the fund has already been awarded to the Springfields nuclear fuel manufacturing site in northwest England, the government said.

Energy supply has become a key focus since its invasion of Ukraine drove costs sharply higher. Planned additions to nuclear electricity generation capacity will reduce Britain's reliance on natural gas, which fuelled around 45% of generation in 2021.

Britain in November said it would become a 50% shareholder in the Sizewell C nuclear project by providing 700 million pounds in funding to the plant, which is planned for southeast England.

($1 = 0.8290 pounds)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Bradley Perrett)