August 21, 2023 - by Levi Hill, Hobbs News-Sun
Urenco, an international supplier of enrichment services and fuel cycle products for the civil nuclear industry, has partnered with SunPeak on a ground-mounted solar installation at its facility in New Mexico.
On an unusually cool Tuesday in August with a light easterly breeze buffeting the tent, Urenco USA staff and leaders, along with local officials, celebrated a step towards zero emissions at the nuclear enrichment facility east of Eunice.
“As a company we are committed to net zero by 2040 through the significant contribution to the production of carbon free energy as a key part of the nuclear fuel cycle and through the reduction of our own carbon emissions as well as those within our value chain,” said Karen Fili, president and CEO of Urenco USA.
The event was a groundbreaking for a half megawatt solar array to off-set Urenco’s electric usage with more solar power to come in the future Fili said.
In addition, she said Urenco is transitioning its on-site fleet to electric vehicles with charging stations already available at the site for employees and more stations coming.
“This is an exciting day because this will be first of many milestone events,” added Fili.
Along with the solar project, Urenco is also moving forward on capacity expansion and advanced fuels projects that could be online in the next few months to a year, she said.
In early July, Urenco announced its plans to expand enrichment capacity at the facility, the first expansion since 2016 and will allow Urenco to increase its production by an additional 15 percent.
The first new cascades are scheduled to come online in 2025 with the completion of the project in early 2027.
Fili also said Urenco is applying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for approval to begin producing enriched uranium to a level of 10 percent — a level needed by modular nuclear reactors. She added Urenco is working on securing contracts to supply nuclear fuel for modular reactor companies.
Sen. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, attended Tuesday’s groundbreaking and called Urenco a bright star in the state, nation and world.
“We at the Legislature are very proud of Urenco,” he said.
Eunice Mayor Billy Hobbs said in the early days there was much concern about bringing the nuclear facility to Lea County, but said Urenco has been a boon and a friend to Eunice and the county.
“Your presence here has been nothing but positive,” he said.
Urenco’s solar array is being installed by Wisconsin-based SunPeak.