The selection of six companies to advance in the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) competition marks a significant step towards transforming nuclear power station construction and achieving greater energy security in the UK.
In the government’s plan to revive nuclear power, SMRs are seen as a key technology to deliver cleaner, cheaper, and more secure energy. Unlike conventional reactors, SMRs are smaller and can be manufactured in factories, making construction faster and less expensive. This innovative approach could attract billions of pounds of investment in the UK.
The six companies chosen – EDF, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy International LLC, Holtec Britain Limited, NuScale Power, Rolls Royce, and Westinghouse Electric Company UK Limited – have designs that are considered the most capable of delivering operational SMRs by the mid-2030s. This selection puts the UK at the forefront of the global race to develop cutting-edge nuclear technologies.
The next stage of the competition will allow successful companies to bid for government contracts, with the aim of announcing the supported companies in Spring 2024 and awarding contracts by Summer 2024. This ambitious timetable sets the competition to be the fastest of its kind in the world.
In addition to SMRs, the government is also investing in the Sizewell C project, a large-scale nuclear plant that aims to replicate the success of Hinkley Point C. The government’s ambition is for up to a quarter of all UK electricity to come from nuclear power by 2050.
The development of SMRs not only promises to expand nuclear power rapidly but also create well-paid, high-skilled jobs and boost the economy. This competition has attracted designs from around the world, cementing the UK’s position as a world leader in nuclear innovation.
Overall, this announcement marks a significant milestone in the government’s objective to boost nuclear power and deliver cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy for British families and businesses. The selected companies now have the opportunity to prepare for the next stages of the competition, potentially benefiting from significant support from the public purse.