Nascent industry should have same help as offshore wind, expert report says. Developers of “mini” nuclear reactors in the UK should be offered the same subsidies as those provided to offshore wind to help commercialise the nascent industry, an independent group of experts has recommended.
The proposal is among several contained in a report by an expert finance working group appointed by the government last year to advise on how small nuclear reactor projects, which range from micro to 600 megawatt reactors, could raise private investment. Large reactors typically generate more than 1,000 megawatts.
The UK is one of the few western nations committed to building new nuclear power stations, and the development of a new generation of small atomic reactors is seen as crucial to the industry’s future as it grapples to stay competitive against the rapidly falling costs of renewables, including solar and wind. The government in June committed up to £56m to kick-start research and development into the most advanced types of small reactor technologies, most of which will not be commercially available until the late 2020s.
The expert finance working group said that for technologies capable of being commercially deployed by 2030, the government should focus on bringing so-called first-of-a-kind projects to market through a number of different mechanisms to lower their cost of capital. These should include a new clean energy infrastructure fund as well as financial support in the form of a so-called contract for difference, which was successfully used to promote the development of Britain’s offshore wind industry. Financial Times