UK government considers investment in SMR

5 August 2019

Energy Live News reports that the UK government is considering investing up to £18 million to help develop what would be the first mini nuclear power station in the UK, based on the design concept of the small modular reactor – the SMR.

The funding for small and advanced modular reactors would be be less than for conventional GW scale nuclear plants – they will be designed so that much of the plant can be factory-built and transported to site for construction.

The news comes as a consortium led by Rolls-Royce proposes a joint investment of more than £500 million on designing a first-of-a-kind SMR, with a working model expected to be up and running in the early 2030s.

The government funding, expected to be awarded in early Autumn 2019, is subject to a final decision to invest.

The announcement has been made as part of government proposals to explore a new financing model, the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) approach, to attract significant private investment for future nuclear power and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) projects in the UK. This model would allow developers of such projects to charge customers in advance through an add-on to their existing energy bills.

BEIS says the alternative model – already used in other major infrastructure projects – could reduce the cost of financing infrastructure and risk for developers while limiting the impact on consumer bills in the long term.

The government is also providing up to £40 million through the Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) programme and is currently considering project bids.

It is one of a number of energy policy proposals published recently to be the subject of an Energy White Paper, including nuclear, carbon capture and storage, and smart grids.

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