UK gets £3m boost for next-gen nuclear reactors as bills soar

Energy bills: 'Possibility' of 'blackouts this winter' says Halligan

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As global gas price surge, the knock-on impacts are being felt by households in the UK, who on average will have to fork out up to £3,549 a year from October under the new price cap in an 80 percent rise. This has laid bare the urgent need for a long-term plan to bolster Britain’s energy security and slash imports of foreign gas by ramping up its own homegrown supplies.

Nuclear energy has been tipped as one of those long-term solutions, and providing an alternative power source to gas has the added bonus of not producing any CO2 emissions.

It was made a key part of the Government’s energy strategy that was unveiled in April as Britain scrambles to wean itself of Russia’s fossil fuels and avoid a future bills crisis.

On Wednesday, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that a number of nuclear projects around the country will receive funding via the Government’s £385million Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development and Demonstration (AMR RD&D) programme.

This focuses on developing the next generation of nuclear reactors.

Known as High-Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs), these innovations can operate at very high temperatures and use gas as a coolant without any core meltdown accidents.

It is hoped that HTGR technology will be ready for demonstration by the early 2030s.

Up to £2.5 million in funding is going to six projects that are hoping to develop Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) in Britain.

These are reactors which use new, innovative fuels as well as other technologies to create high temperatures for both electricity and industrial use.

One project by the National Nuclear Laboratory Ltd in Cheshire is receiving £497,495 for a joint UK-Japan mission to design an HTGR.

Another, the EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Ltd in Gloucester and Hartlepool, is working on a project to determine the reactor design characteristics most suited to HTGR demonstration in the 2030s, and will receive nearly £500,000.

The Hartlepool Heat Hub could be the host site for the UK’s first HTGR demonstration, according to French-owned EDF.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency will also receive up to £830,000 to develop and consider innovative regulatory approaches to High-Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs).

Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “This investment will help unlock the potential for new nuclear reactors in the UK, as we drive forward plans to boost clean, cutting-edge, homegrown technologies for our energy security while driving down bills in the long term.”

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The announcement also comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday that the £20billion Sizewell C nuclear reactor in Suffolk will receive £700million in Government funding.

During his speech, Mr Johnson claimed that British nuclear energy was in “paralysis” and called on the country to “pull our national finger out and get on with Sizewell C”.

He said: “This project will create tens of thousands of jobs, it will also power six million homes – that is roughly a fifth of all the homes in the UK – so it’ll help to fix the energy needs, not just of this generation but of the next.”

The Government has set a target of accelerating nuclear energy to eventually represent 25 percent of our projected electricity demand.

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