UK nuclear body urges government to go full steam ahead on SMRs

The UK government has been urged by one of the industry’s leading figures to pursue the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) with “pace and urgency”.

Tom Greatrex, (pic) chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), has said that the UK needed to develop a pipeline of projects to increase nuclear power in line with the government’s energy security projects.

His comments come amid reports of a funding delay with ministers squabbling over the cost of the country’s energy ambitions.

In comments made to CityAM he said: “Proceeding with pace and urgency will not only make power more reliably and predictably priced, but it will also mean that UK technology will create long term, high quality jobs and export opportunities from which the country will benefit.”

This would mean nuclear power generated 25% of the UK’s energy demand, with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson establishing plans for the UK to build eight new reactors this decade.

Currently, the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet composes some 15% of the country’s energy generation, but the remaining five power plants are set to be shut down by the middle of the next decade.

With the UK needing to increase nuclear capacity quickly, Greatrex said he convinced the UK could become “a global leader” in SMRs.

He believes that they could supplement renewables and a larger nuclear fleet and strengthen the UK’s energy security.

Greatrex said: “There is no doubt that the UK can be a global leader in SMR. Working alongside larger reactors and renewables, they will provide a vital source of reliable, clean power, essential to reducing our reliance on burning volatile fossil gas for power, heat and transport – while simultaneously strengthening UK energy security.”

He has previously urged the government to speed up announcements for new projects, with Sizewell C still awaiting a final investment decision and Hinkley Point C’s completion delayed two years to 2027.