In the media

Government has a role in unlocking small reactors

By Adam Gait

Financial Times

01 February 2023

This article was first published in Financial Times

The key to avoiding yet another false dawn for nuclear power in the UK lies in recognising the value of small modular reactors (SMRs) alongside more familiar nuclear mega-projects such as Hinkley Point C, and the fundamentally different models under which they are delivered (“Can Britain realise its nuclear ambitions?”, The Big Read, January 20).

Unlike Hinkley — which is gigawatt in scale, inherently complex, relies on state funding and is being delivered through a “supply-side” vertically integrated model — SMRs are more akin to a manufacturing project, and can be delivered through a new, distributed “demand-side” model.

Their smaller scale means they do not need to rely on state funding, but rather on third-party investors (who are already showing considerable interest in this space), and only require the government to catalyse the market by reducing the risk to the first entrants.

However, there is a critical missing piece holding investors back and this is a lack market certainty around deploying the first SMR.

This is where government can act.

By assuring access to sites, providing routes to long-term revenue streams and supporting SMR technology providers in managing the risks and cost premium associated with first-unit delivery.

This is how we can unlock the SMR market and avoid another false dawn for nuclear in the UK.

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