Small Modular Reactor nuclear development

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A Government report recently concluded that there is an opportunity for the UK, and its supply chain, to become a world-leader in nuclear power.  This has led to the Government committing £3m on additional work to determine the potential development and deployment of Small Modular Reactors (SMR), knowing there is a two-year time window for Britain to become a world leader.

In July, new energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, spoke openly, for the first time, on the Government’s wish to progress SMRs.  She said: “Small Modular Reactors are an option we are investigating further.  These have the potential to drive down the cost of nuclear energy and make financing easier through shorter construction times and lower initial capital investment requirements, in addition to high-value commercial opportunities.”

A report commissioned last year to look into the feasibility of the technology, supported key industrial participants Rolls Royce, Atkins and Amec concluded the cost of electricity from the technology could be around £67/MWh, 20% less than the current nuclear programme and cheaper than all other existing renewable energy sources.  The current programme involves the UK being committed to developing at least five new power stations, contributing 16GW of low carbon electricity by 2025.

The Government is expected to continue to support these schemes, but it is thought that it is now looking at SMRs as a way to of supplementing its nuclear programme and as a cost-effective way of allowing the UK to hits emission reduction targets.

Currently there is only one company in the UK promoting the technology, Newcastle based Penultimate Power, who would like to see an initial project developed on land next to the current Hartlepool nuclear power plant.  The aim would be to demonstrate the technology and go on to develop production facilities of SMR projects across the UK.

A second report is to be commissioned by the Government to investigate the technology further and possible Government support to provide impetus to the sector and boost investor confidence.

For more information, help or advice please contact Andrew Davison on 0191 211 7950.