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UK Government Announces Fund To Develop Small Nuclear Reactors

World Nuclear News

The UK government has announced an investment of GBP40 million (USD50 million) in the development of advanced modular reactors (AMRs) and small modular reactors (SMRs).

An artistic impression of a plant based on the U-Battery high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (Image: U-Battery)

A government-commissioned report, meanwhile, has made recommendations for boosting the capability of the UK’s nuclear R&D sector and domestic supply chain to support future AMR deployment.

Three-quarters of the funds will support three SMR projects. Oxfordshire-based Tokamak Energy, working with industry partners and research establishments including Oxford University, is developing fusion reactors. Lancashire-based Westinghouse is developing a lead-cooled fast reactor, while Cheshire-based U-Battery is working on a small high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. Each project will receive about GBP10 million. This funding was awarded following the companies’ successful participation in Phase 1 of the AMR competition, which sought to determine the feasibility of, and provide support for, the design and development of AMR designs.

The remaining GBP10 million will be invested in “unlocking smaller research, design, and manufacturing projects to create up to 200 jobs”, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said. GBP5 million of that will be invested in British companies and start-ups, developing new ways of manufacturing advanced nuclear parts for modular reactor projects both at home and abroad. The remaining GBP5 million will be used to strengthen the UK’s nuclear regulatory regime, “ensuring it remains one of the most robust and safest in the world as the UK looks to develop and deploy advanced nuclear technologies”.

The funding is being provided through BEIS’s GBP505 million Energy Innovation Programme, which aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative clean energy technologies and processes.

“Today’s funding will ensure the technology is more attractive to private sector investors, supercharging the development of the industry and creating supply chains feeding future modular reactor developments,” BEIS said.

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