New nuclear at UK's Sellafield would require transmission boost

9 May 2006

A new report reveals that the Sellafield site in Cumbria, northwest UK, would be a potential option for new nuclear build, but that the transmission network would have to be substantially reinforced in order to distribute the output to the national grid.

These conclusions come from the report, Potential New Build in Cumbria, by Environmental Resources Management and Integrated Decision Management on behalf of West Lakes Renaissance and local authorities.

The report found that while Sellafield would be one of several sites considered were the government to support a new nuclear power programme, it is not an optimal location as there would also need to be new transmission lines built across West Cumbria to connect to the national grid.

A northern route, connecting to the grid close to Carlisle, would be the most likely to receive planning authority consents, the report finds, as it could largely be built along the route of existing overhead electricity lines. However, connection charges would be significant and it is estimated that costs would be of the order of £70 million ($120 million) for one reactor or £230 million ($395 million) for two reactors, adding some 5-10% to the capital costs. This would be offset to a certain extent if a fleet of 5-10 new reactors were built in the UK using a single design.

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