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The advanced nuclear sector has the potential to play an important part in the UK’s Industrial Strategy building on our existing economic strengths and competitive advantages in nuclear while shaping new advanced nuclear markets and contributing to tackling the Clean Growth Grand Challenge.
Richard Harrington announced policies in a speech to the Nuclear Industries Association Conference on 7 December 2017 as the first steps to help achieve this potential.
Advanced Nuclear Technologies encompasses Small Modular Reactors (SMR) - the term used to describe a wide range of nuclear reactor technologies under development. The common attributes they share are that they are smaller than conventional nuclear power station reactors and are designed so that much of the plant can be fabricated in a factory environment and transported to site.
Generally, SMRs fall into one of 2 groups:
- Generation III water-cooled small modular reactors, which are similar to existing nuclear power station reactors but on a smaller scale
- Generation IV advanced modular reactors, which use novel cooling systems or fuels to offer new functionality (such as industrial process heat) and potentially a step change reduction in costs
However there is a large variety of potential technologies within these groups which range in scale between micro, small and medium scale reactors and which span technology types from conventional water-cooled reactors, to Generation IV reactors using novel fuels and coolants, as well as fusion reactor concepts.
Given this breadth, government believes that “SMR”, as commonly understood, is too narrow a description for technologies coming forward after the current generation of nuclear power stations. Instead government considers this to be the “Advanced Nuclear” market.
1. Contact Us
2. Advanced Nuclear Technology policies
Government is providing up to £7 million of funding to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and license small and novel reactor designs, as announced in the Clean Growth Strategy. This funding will also provide support for pre-licensing engagement between vendors and regulators.
Government is providing funding to support advanced reactors through a two-stage Advanced Modular Reactor Programme. Up to £4 million in Stage 1 will support around 8 reactor vendors to carry out detailed technical and commercial feasibility studies. Subject to Stage 1 demonstrating clear value for money through a formal re-approval process with the Treasury, up to £40 million of further funding could then support 3-4 vendors to accelerate the development of their designs. Up to a further £5 million may also be made available to regulators to support this.
The AMR Programme is being administered by Innovate UK. More information can be found on the Innovate UK website.
Government has set up an Expert Finance Group to advise on how small and advanced reactor projects could raise investment in the UK. By bringing together nuclear and financial sector expertise we anticipate that this group will help demonstrate the commercial proposition of small reactors in the emerging nuclear market. The group will be asked to report in the Spring.
For further information on the group, including on how reactor technology developers and consortia can provide information to the group, please see the Expert Finance Working Group on Small Reactors.
3. Small Modular Reactor competition
In March 2016, government launched the first phase of the SMR competition as an evidence-gathering phase with the goal of gauging market interest among technology developers, utilities, and potential investors.
Following successful engagement with industry, the competition closed in December 2017. This exercise provided valuable insight into the advanced nuclear technologies market. We are grateful to the entrants for their participation.
4. Techno-Economic Assessment of Small Modular Reactors
In March 2015, government commissioned an independent Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) of SMRs in order to contribute to the evidence base and help inform policy decisions.
Read the Techno-Economic Assessment reports.