Following the announcement of £250 million for nuclear innovation in his autumn statement, the Chancellor George Osborne renewed his commitment to nuclear power in yesterday’s budget. He announced a competition for Small modular reactors, an SMR delivery roadmap and at least £30 million for an SMR-enabling advanced manufacturing R&D programme to develop nuclear skills capacity.
The £30 million will presumably be part of the pre-pledged £250 million, rather than in addition to it. Nevertheless, the steps on SMR delivery are encouraging. It is necessary under European state aid rules to run a competition on SMRs before a winner or winners can be chosen. The sooner this is done, the closer they are to being realised. A roadmap for realisation will also help progress and in the Chancellor’s words “pave the way to build one of the world’s first SMRs”.
Our upcoming report on “Next steps on nuclear innovation” – which we aim to publish next month – will contain advice on how the government should pursue not only SMRs but all advanced reactors.