European uranium enrichment company Urenco has broken ground on a project to expand capacity at its Almelo plant in the Netherlands. “The extension project, which comes under our existing capacity programme, will see multiple new centrifuge cascades added to an existing plant, strengthening the nuclear fuel supply chain,” Urenco said. The first cascades are due to come online in 2027.

UK-based Urenco is owned one third each by the UK government, the Dutch government, and the major German utilities. It has enrichment facilities in the UK, Netherlands, Germany and the US.

“Urenco takes the needs of the market incredibly seriously,” said Ad Louter, Urenco Almelo Managing Director. “This project will help deliver 1.6m SWU (separative work units), in total alongside other projects happening at our sites in Germany and the USA.” SWU is the measure of the effort required to separate isotopes of uranium (U235 and U238) during enrichment. 1 SWU is equivalent to 1 kg of separative work.

In December 2023, Urenco announced plans to increase capacity at its Almelo plant by 15% in response to new commitments from customers. The capacity programme is a mid- to long-term plan to refurbish and extend Urenco’s enrichment capacity at all of its four sites.

Earlier in 2023, Urenco approved its first expansion project at its plant in Eunice, New Mexico providing an additional capacity of 700 tonnes of SWU a year. The first new cascades are due online in 2025. The plant currently has a production capacity of 4,600 tonnes SWU a year. At its site in Gronau, Germany, the company is re-fitting an existing space with more modern centrifuge technology which will enhance the capacity of the plant.