Mini-nuclear reactor review completed

Long-delayed report due to be published in the autumn.

The government has completed a long-delayed assessment of mini-nuclear reactors, energy minister Richard Harrington has revealed.

The techno-economic assessment of small modular reactors (SMRs), which was originally commissioned in September 2015, was commissioned to provide the evidence base needed to inform the government’s decision on whether it should support the development and deployment of such devices within the UK.

It looked at the role played by SMRs in the global marketplace and an assessment of the contribution they could make to the UK energy mix and their potential impact on the UK economy.

In March 2016, the-then DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change) launched a competition to identify the best value small modular reactor SMR design for the UK.

However earlier this year, Harrington’s predecessor Jesse Norman admitted to a House of Lords committee that the assessment had been more difficult than expected.

In a response to a written question tabled in the House of Commons, energy minister Richard Harrington said that the assessment was complete and that the government intended to publish it in the autumn.

He said: “The techno-economic assessment of SMRs was commissioned by the government to help build the evidence base on SMRs.

“The report has helped the government assess the contribution SMRs could make to the UK energy supply as well as identifying the benefits and risks of SMR deployment. The Government intends to publish the Techno-Economic Assessment in the autumn.”

The government commissioned the competition for SMRs, which can be mass-produced in factories, in order to find a quicker and cheaper nuclear power generation option than larger conventional plants like Hinkley C.