Advanced Nuclear Technologies

The advanced nuclear sector has the potential to play and important part in the UK’s industrial strategy, the Government has said, building on Britain’s existing economic strengths and competitive advantages in the nuclear sector whilst shaping new advanced nuclear markets and contributing to the Clean Growth Grand Challenge.

BEIS minister Richard Harrington MP, in a speech to the Nuclear Industries Association Conference on 7 December 2017, announced policies as the first steps to help achieve this potential.

The Nuclear Sector Deal, announced on 28 June 2018, sets out clear aims to benefit the UK:

  • to reduce the cost of nuclear new build by 30% by 2030
  • to reduce the cost of decommissioning to taxpayers by 20%
  • to establish a more competitive supply chain equipped to win domestic and foreign contracts of up to £2 billion by 2030

Advanced nuclear technologies include a wide range of nuclear reactor technologies currently under development, including smaller reactors (often known as Small Modular Reactors or SRMs). These technologies are smaller than conventional nuclear power station reactors, and are designed so that much of the plant can be fabricated in a factory environment before being transported to site, which reduces construction risk and making them less capital-intensive.

Small nuclear projects range from microgeneration projects through to 600MW reactors. The costs of such projects will range from £100 million to £2.5 billion. The expected use of factory manufacturing and off-site assembly of smaller reactors will rely on a highly productive and capable supply chain that will use cutting edge technologies and processes to manufacture nuclear components cost-effectively.

In December 2017, the Government instituted an Expert Finance Working Group to advise on how small and advanced modular reactor projects could raise investment in the UK. The Group brought together expertise from across the financial sector, industry, academia and Government to test the hypothesis that the characteristics of small reactors (lower up-front capital cost, shorter build time etc.) could enable innovative private finance solutions.

The final report, Market Framework for Financing Small Nuclear, was published on 7 August 2018. The Government and the sector will work together to establish an Advanced Manufacturing and Construction programme of work to demonstrate new ways of making key, high-value nuclear components, or designing systems or processes. This will involve the Government providing up to £20 million (subject to approval) to leverage significant sector investment, starting with a £12 million commitment, but increasing as the programme takes shape.

The UK has consistently been a world leader in nuclear technology, with a wealth of expertise in our national laboratories, research centres, and in the wider UK nuclear industry and supply chain. CECA is a long-standing supporter of new nuclear as part of the mixed portfolio of generation the UK will require to meet projected demand, and deliver the clean, secure power we all rely upon.