UK Government Launches Competition for Small Nuclear Reactors, Promises Grants up to £157m
Posted 18/07/2023 11:12
The UK Government has taken steps to accelerate the development of nuclear power in the country by launching a competition for businesses to develop new nuclear reactors. Companies can now register with the newly established arm's-length government body, Great British Nuclear (GBN), to tap into potential government and private funding for the development of smaller nuclear power plants. Grant Shapps, Energy Security Secretary, has announced grants of up to £157 million to support nuclear technology projects across the UK. The objective is to design small modular reactors (SMRs) that can be manufactured in factories and transported to where they will be used, benefiting from economies of scale. While the first prototypes of SMRs have been operational in Russia and China, they remain unproven at large scales. The UK Government aims to diversify energy sources and achieve its target of generating about a quarter of the country's electricity from nuclear power by 2050.
The launch of GBN also coincides with the government's announcement of grants totaling up to £157 million for various nuclear projects. £77 million will be allocated to accelerate the development of a nuclear business in the UK and support new designs. An additional £58 million will be made available for the development and design of advanced modular reactors (AMRs) operating at higher temperatures, as well as new types of fuel.
The government's efforts to boost nuclear power have received mixed responses. Observers have expressed skepticism about the viability and economic feasibility of small modular reactors. Critics argue that these technologies are still far from being commercially ready and may not offer significant improvements over existing nuclear power. However, the government remains committed to its nuclear ambitions, including major projects like Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C. The Great British Nuclear initiative aims to facilitate a nuclear power renaissance in the UK, boosting energy security, reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports, and fostering economic growth.