Government row over funding for SMRs

Officials reportedly disagree on the scale of state investment in Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactors

Big Zero Report 2022

A plan to build a fleet of mini nuclear reactors across the UK could be delayed by at least another 12 months amid a row in the government over the cost of Britain’s nuclear power ambitions.

The Sunday Times cited sources stating that there was still a large degree of uncertainty over the scale of state investment in small modular reactors (SMRs).

SMRs are smaller than conventional nuclear power station reactors and are designed so a majority of the plant can be built in a factory and transported to the site for construction.

The newspaper reported that Rolls-Royce, which has created designs for an SMR with the capacity to generate 470MW of energy, is seeking commitment for four SMRs at a cost of about £2 billion each.

Last year, Rolls-Royce announced a list of potential locations for its first Small Modular Reactor (SMR) factory.

A few months ago, the government announced the formation of the Great British Nuclear, a body responsible for supporting the delivery of the next generation of reactors and SMRs.

A BEIS spokesperson told ELN: “Small modular reactors could play a vital role in our nuclear programme as we work to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and exposure to volatile global gas prices.

“The government is investing in these new technologies through the £385 million Advanced Nuclear Fund including £210 million towards the Rolls-Royce SMR programme. We have also launched the £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund, the first in a series of government interventions designed to achieve the government’s ambition of deploying up to 24GW of nuclear capacity by 2050.”

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