Developers of “mini” nuclear reactors in the UK should be offered the same subsidies as those provided to offshore wind to help commercialise the nascent industry, an independent group of experts has recommended. The proposal is among several contained in a report by an expert finance working group appointed by the government last year to advise on how small nuclear reactor projects, which range from micro to 600 megawatt reactors, could raise private investment. Large reactors typically generate more than 1,000 megawatts. The government in June committed up to £56m to kick-start research and development into the most advanced types of small reactor technologies, most of which will not be commercially available until the late 2020s. Richard Harrington, energy minister, said the report by the expert finance working group “recognises the opportunity presented by small nuclear reactors”. “Advanced nuclear technologies provide a major opportunity to drive clean growth and could create high-skilled, well-paid jobs around the country as part of our modern industrial strategy,” he added. The expert finance working group said that for technologies capable of being commercially deployed by 2030, the government should focus on bringing so-called first-of-a-kind projects to market through a number of different mechanisms to lower their cost of capital. The recommendation could be seen as a potential blow to the ambitions of Rolls-Royce, the aero-engine group, which has promoted its own project as a “national endeavour” to develop nuclear skills that can be used to create an export-led industry. The company did not receive any funding for its technology as part of the government’s recent £56m initiative even though it is closer to being commercialised. Rolls-Royce warned last month that it was preparing to shut down the project if the government did not make a long-term commitment to its technology.
FT 7th Aug 2018 read more »