Britain’s hopes of taking a leading role in a £450bn global industry building a new generation of “mini” nuclear reactors could be dashed this week. Companies vying to develop small modular reactors (SMRs) – nuclear power stations about a 10th of the size of current plants – fear a government announcement on the future of the industry will not be enough to push the technology forward. Energy Minister Richard Harrington is expected to reveal funding for development of SMRs at an energy conference on Thursday. A push for new nuclear power was announced by George Osborne two years ago, with up to £250m on offer for technologies that could help guarantee security of supply for the UK’s power needs. Mr Harrington has acknowledged a policy announcement is long overdue. However, sources close to companies involved in SMRs fear the announcement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will not provide the strong signal or required funding needed to push ahead with work. “The mood music coming out of BEIS is that they are just kicking the can down the road ,” said on nuclear industry source. “Rather than a great announcement it looks like they are just buying time.” The source described a “deep frustration” within industry at government delays on SMRs, adding: “There’s an absence of understanding of the scale of the challenge on energy in the UK.” Delays risk the UK losing out to other countries in what could be a huge future industry, the source added. The consortium – led by Rolls-Royce and backed up by Laing O’Rourke, Arup and Amec Foster Wheeler – thinks once mature, SMRs could generate power at £60 per megawat t hour. This compares with £92.50 per megawatt hour slated for the giant Hinkley Point power station, which uses a conventional large reactor design. Other companies hoping to develop SMR technology in the UK include NuScale and America’s Westinghouse.
Telegraph 4th Dec 2017 read more »