The nuclear industry is being damaged by government dithering over plans for “mini” reactors, a House of Lords report has warned. A promised competition to support the development of small modular reactors in Britain has suffered “alarming” delays owing to government indecision, the Lords’ science and technology committee said. The previous Conservative administration gave enthusiastic backing for the reactors, which proponents argue could be cheaper and easier to build than conventional nuclear plants. The competition to “identify the best value SMR design for the UK” was announced in 2015 as part of a £250 million nuclear research and development programme. More than 30 companies, including Rolls-Royce and Nuscale Power, entered the first phase of the competition last year, with results and a road map setting out proposed next steps expe cted last autumn, but neither is yet to materialise. The Lords urged the government to publish “without delay if industrial interest is to be maintained and if commercial opportunities are not to be missed . . . This has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector.” A spokesman for the business department said: “The government recognises the potential of small modular reactors to help to meet our energy and climate change challenges at a lower cost. We will respond to the select committee’s report in due course.”
Times 3rd May 2017 read more »
Lords scold government for lack of progress on small modular reactors plan, warning UK nuclear sector will suffer if firms walk away. The government’s failure to deliver on a multimillion-pound competition to develop mini atomic power stations has hurt the nuclear sector and risks international companies walking away from the UK, a Lords committee has warned. In 2015 the then chancellor George Osborne promised £250m over five years for a nuclear research and development programme, an undisclosed sum of which was for a competition to pave the way for small modular reactors. These reactors are much smaller than conventional nuclear plants with a capacity of less than 300MW – or a 10th of what Hinkley Point C should provide. But the government has failed to even publish results of the first phase of the competition, expected last autumn, which the Lords science and technology committee said was “particularly alarming”. “This has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the UK and if the government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained,” they said in a report on Tuesday. The peers urged ministers to publish their plans for small modular reactors (SMRs) without delay, and scolded the government for not showing any urgency to make a decision. A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “The government recognises the potential of small modular reactors to help meet our energy and climate change challenges at a lower cost.” Government officials said earlier this year that one of the attractions of mini nuclear power stations was they fitted with the industrial strategy launched by Theresa May. But Tom Wintle, deputy director at the business department, said they had to provide affordable power. “SMRs will need to deliver energy cost-competitively if they are to play a part in the UK’s future energy mix. As well as securing low-carbon energy, government is also committed to keeping down the cost of that energy for consumers, so there is a key challenge there for the nuclear industry as a whole and for SMRs,” he told an industry conference.
Guardian 2nd May 2017 read more »
Telegraph 2nd May 2017 read more »