The UK Government is expected to announce plans to fund a new large-scale nuclear power plant, with a fleet of mini reactors also likely to be funded.
According to a report by The Telegraph, Government Ministers have decided that nuclear power will be key to achieving the goal of producing 100% clean power by 2035. With that in mind, it’s imperative that new nuclear power stations are built, after all, just one of the existing facilities is currently expected to still be operational in 2030.
Thankfully that power station – Sizewell B – will soon be joined by another, with EDF currently constructing two new reactors in Somerset, dubbed Hinkley Point C. However, that project has been plagued with delays, while it has also become a political hot potato due to CGN’s involvement.
Despite this, Hinkley Point C is still expected to begin producing power shortly after 2025, two years after the station it replaces, Hinkley Point B, is set to be decommissioned. So, you can see why the UK Government is seeing a new sense of urgency in building new nuclear capacity.
So, where will this new power station go? Well, it’s expected that the Government will fund a new nuclear power plant at Sizewell, dubbed Sizewell C. This isn’t the first time that the Government has been rumoured to be planning to bridge the funding gap at this power plant, and it would be the most obvious choice, however, US firm Westinghouse is also eager to build a new plant at Wylfa in Wales.
The Government is ruling out more than one large-scale nuclear power plant, however. Talking to Reuters, a Government spokesperson noted, “We are seeking to approve at least one more large-scale nuclear project in the next few years to strengthen energy security and create thousands of jobs.”
That means it’s possible that Sizewell C will be joined by other proposed projects, such as the new plant at Wylfa or even Bradwell B.
Mini reactors also set to gain Government funding
Alongside large-scale nuclear power plants, the Government is also poised to fund new mini nuclear reactors. These could pop up across the UK, with Rolls-Royce proposing a fleet of 16 small nuclear reactors that would be much cheaper to construct than larger plants.
Currently Rolls-Roycle has managed to secure £210 million of private investment, with the UK Government expected to match or exceed those funds to get the project off the ground. That would lead to the first small modular reactor being plugged into the grid by 2031.
The Government is expected to confirm funding for small modular reactors before the spending review on October 27, with funding for the new large-scale nuclear power plant expected some time ‘before the next election’.