My comments on offshore wind making other forms of energy uncompetitive in 2017 have only become more clear in the past 3 years. Now the adoption of offshore wind is happening elsewhere around the world including in the US, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, India. Here I review the current status of the UK nuclear power program because the UK nuclear sector is a key indicator for the status of nuclear power adoption in the West. I conclude that, notwithstanding a lot of lobbying for SMR (Small Modular Reactor) technology, nuclear power is a fading force even though it produces zero carbon energy. This has particular relevance for investors interested in SMR technology. Indicating the desperate state of the UK nuclear industry, a new report from the Centre for Policy Studies “Bridging the gap: the case for new nuclear investment” concludes that at least one new nuclear plant needs to be built to support the Hinkley Point C development. However it is acknowledged that this will not be possible with current financing. An interesting example of creative financing being considered is the Regulated Asset Base model which would allow developers to start charging consumers before the nuclear reactor commences power generation. It will be interesting to see how such a model of financing might be regarded. The essence of the SMR argument is that it will be more cost effective to build SMRs in a factory for delivery on site. Rolls Royce is a serious contender in the race to develop a Small Modular Reactor and it is proposing to build not one, but 16 of these plants with a capacity of 440 MW at a cost of 2 billion pounds each. The Rolls Royce strategy is that by building multiple SMRs it will get good at it and the cost might go down. The reality behind this proposal is that it seems pretty ambitious to set out to build 16 plants before one has been successfully constructed. Time seems against this concept as the UK will have largely exited nuclear power by 2030.
Seeking Alpha 13th March 2021 read more »