Designs chosen in government competition considered most able to deliver cutting-edge technology by mid-2030s
- Six companies selected to advance to next phase of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) competition for innovative nuclear technologies
- Companies will be invited to bid for government contracts later this year with successful companies announced in Spring next year and contracts awarded in Summer
- SMRs could transform how nuclear power stations are built and result in billions of pounds of investment in the UK
Six companies' designs for the next generation of nuclear reactors have been selected to progress in a government competition supporting the development of this innovative technology for greater energy security.
EDF, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy International LLC, Holtec Britain Limited, NuScale Power, Rolls Royce and Westinghouse Electric Company UK Limited have been chosen for the next stage of the process.
The Small Modular Reactor (SMR) competition is part of the government's plan to revive nuclear power and for the UK to lead the global race to develop cutting-edge technologies to rapidly deliver cleaner, cheaper energy and greater energy security. The government's ambition is for up to a quarter of all UK electricity to come from nuclear power by 2050.
Unlike conventional nuclear reactors that are built on site, SMRs are smaller, can be made in factories, and could transform how power stations are built by making construction faster and less expensive.
The designs chosen today are considered by the government and Great British Nuclear - the government-backed body driving forward nuclear projects across the country - the most able to deliver operational SMRs by the mid-2030s. The next stage of the process will be launched as soon as possible where successful companies will shortly be able to bid for Government contracts. The ambition is to announce in Spring 2024 which of the six companies the Government will support, with contracts awarded by Summer 2024. This timetable aims to make this competition the fastest of its kind in the world.
As well as backing SMRs and other emerging nuclear technologies, the government is also investing in the large-scale project at Sizewell C, a near exact replica of Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear plant to be in construction for over a generation.
Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said:
Small Modular Reactors will help the UK rapidly expand nuclear power and deliver cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy for British families and businesses, create well-paid, high-skilled jobs, and grow the economy.
This competition has attracted designs from around the world and puts the UK at the front of the global race to develop this exciting, cutting-edge technology and cement our position as a world leader in nuclear innovation."
Minister for Nuclear and Networks Andrew Bowie said:
This programme provides the blueprint for how the government can work together with industry to grow the economy and set the future of new, exciting nuclear technologies.
I am delighted today we have taken the next step in our plans to unleash a new generation of nuclear technology, boost our energy security and deliver our net zero ambitions.
Gwen Parry-Jones, CEO of Great British Nuclear said:
Today's announcement is a key step forward in delivering the government's objective of boosting nuclear power in this country. Our priority in this process has been to prioritise reliable and sustainable power to the grid early, and that's why we have focused our first step on the technologies that we viewed as most likely to meet the objective of a final investment decision in 2029.
These companies will now be able to prepare for the next stages of the competition, aiming for a final contract agreement in the summer, potentially benefiting from significant support from the public purse.
This is a hugely exciting day for the nuclear industry, with X companies taking the first step towards delivering sustainable power for Britain. For companies who were not successful in this initial process, the next opportunity could be the government's consultation on alternative routes to market for nuclear technologies which is due to be launched soon. This will look at how to support newer technologies so that Britain can benefit from them as well.
The government's objective has been to select technologies which offer the greatest confidence in being able to make a final investment decision in 2029 and be operational in the mid-2030s.
The government is set to consult later in the year on how best to ensure other nuclear technologies can potentially get underway in the UK - and this could include some of the technologies that were not selected through this process.