Downing St considers £2bn support for mini nuclear reactors. Downing Street is supporting plans to spend up to £2bn of taxpayers’ money on a new generation of mini nuclear reactors Consortium wants to build up to 16 generators to help UK meet carbon emissions targets. The first SMR is expected to cost £2.2bn and be online by 2029. Government and industry figures confirmed that a pledge of £1.5bn-£2bn is being discussed which could even see taxpayers acquire an equity stake in the programme. However, discussions are still ongoing and any final decision will be subject to the Treasury’s current multiyear spending review, which is due later this year. The government could also commission the first mini power station, giving confidence to suppliers and investors. The consortium, which also includes the National Nuclear Laboratory, will seek additional funding of at least £2bn, including from private investors and the capital markets. Support for SMR technology is expected to form part of Boris Johnson’s “10-point plan for a green industrial revolution” which he will set out later in the autumn. The prime minister will also signal greater support for technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and using hydrogen as vehicle fuel. Under the plans being considered by Number 10, the small modular reactors would be manufactured on production lines in central plants and then transported to sites for assembly. Each mini power station would operate for up to 60 years, providing 440MW of electricity per year — enough to power a city the size of Leeds. The government’s support “should deliver sufficient cash to get the consortium through building the factories and well on the way to construction of power stations prior to finding more money from other sources,” said one person with knowledge of the situation. The consortium is expected to finalise the SMR design by April next year, when it hopes to launch the four-year licensing process. During that time it hopes to begin recruiting employees for the business, and identifying the sites for powers stations and the factories to build the components and modules for the SMRs. The business department has already pledged £18m towards the consortium’s early-stage plans.
FT 7th Oct 2020 read more »