The government has revealed its proposals to utilise a high temperature gas model for the prototype next-generation nuclear reactor. In a call for evidence published yesterday (29 July), the government stated that it will look to explore high temperature gas reactors (HTGRs) as the most promising model for the new advanced modular reactor (AMR) demonstrator. The government is investing £170M in delivering a new range of nuclear reactors by the start of the next decade. AMR reactors are typically smaller than conventional nuclear power stations, more flexible, and could be built at a fraction of a cost. It is hoped that as well as safely producing electricity to power homes on the grid, HTGRs will also be able to generate low-carbon hydrogen. In addition, thanks to also generating extremely high temperature heat, they could help decarbonise industry and potentially power district heating networks by the 2040s.
New Civil Engineer 30th July 2021 read more »
Business Green 29th July 2021 read more »
UK’s nuclear technology sector to step up with £170m gas reactor plans. Government ministers are considering high temperature gas reactors (HTGRs) as part of its £170m Advanced Modular Reactor Demonstration Programme. Today’s step builds on the commitment made in the Energy White Paper and the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for £170m of investment in an R&D programme for Advanced Modular Reactors, as part of a £385m package to accelerate the development of more flexible nuclear technologies. Minister of state for energy, Anne Marie Trevelyan, commented: “While renewables like wind and solar will become an integral part of where our electricity will come from by 2050, they will always require a stable low-carbon baseload from nuclear. “That is why, alongside negotiations with the developers of Sizewell C in Suffolk, we are pressing ahead with harnessing new and exciting advanced nuclear technology. “Advanced modular reactors are the next level of modern nuclear technology and have the potential to play a crucial role not only in tackling carbon emissions, but also in powering industry and driving forward Britain’s economic growth, as we build back greener.”
Bdaily 29th July 2021 read more »
How might the UK replace China in its new nuclear plants? Although the reports have met with approval in many quarters, some have raised concerns about what removing a financial partner of CGN’s scale from the projects could mean. At Hinkley Point C, for example, it is putting up a third of the money, while at Sizewell C CGN has committed to fund a fifth of the project. So if CGN is removed, how might the government fill the funding gap? Relying on a deal between EDF and CGN to build the UK’s new power plants sets the country apart from much of the world, where the state has tended to take a prominent role in financing such developments. For example, the US government has underwritten the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia to the tune of $12bn, while in France EDF, which manages the country’s 56 power plants, is 85 per cent state-owned. Although the government has kept the possibility of taking a stake in the projects open – as confirmed in the National Infrastructure Strategy – with the public finances in the state they are after Covid-19, it would be understandable if finding new investors was ministers’ preferred option. However, the model the UK has deployed to this point – the so-called Contract for Difference (CfD) funding model – is extremely unattractive when it comes to nuclear build, because contractors face so much up-front construction cost without government risk guarantees, making it very hard to secure capital for such projects. This has burnt potential investors before, such as in Germany, when the country decided to pull the plug on nuclear power in the aftermath of 2011’s Fukushima disaster, leaving some firms counting the cost of their newly-defunct assets. To get round this problem, and entice new investors, the industry has long been pushing what is known as the “Regulated Asset Base” (RAB) model. Under this approach, the firms building the plants can levy a small surcharge on the energy bills of customers who will in the future use power from the new stations. This guarantees companies such as EDF a revenue stream while the build is underway, lowering the risk to the firm. Such a model is already in use in the UK for other infrastructure assets – most prominently the Thames Tideway Tunnel – and ministers are currently reviewing whether it should be applied to the nuclear sector. If RAB does get the go-ahead, it could be the key to enticing new partners in to fill the void left by CGN.
City AM 29th July 2021 read more »
The Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab observed last year that Britain could no longer conduct “business as usual with China”. The UK’s highest-profile action so far has been to force the Chinese telecoms supplier, Huawei, out of Britain’s 5G network, said the FT. But now ministers are seeking to “ditch” China General Nuclear from future UK power projects – ending a collaboration dating back to a 2015 agreement between David Cameron and Xi Jinping. The move reflects growing concerns about CGN’s “role in critical infrastructure” and follows a similar ban in the US, which put the Chinese state-owned company on an “export blacklist” in 2019, “alleging it had stolen US technology for military purposes”. The brief “golden era” of Sino-British relations has turned “radioactive”, said Ben Marlow in The Daily Telegraph – exposing great holes in UK energy policy. Ministers claim “the removal of the Chinese will encourage other partners to come forward”, but “there is no proper contingency plan”. How very unsurprising, said Alistair Osborne in The Times. “Given the explosive costs of large nuclear, the debate shouldn’t be over how to replace China on these projects. It’s whether we need Sizewell and Bradwell at all.”
The Week 29th July 2021 read more »
The UK government today published a Call for Evidence that sets out its suggested approach to building the first advanced modular reactor (AMR) demonstrator. This will specifically explore high temperature gas reactors (HTGRs) as the most promising model for the demonstration programme, which ministers are investing GBP170 million (USD237 million) into delivering by the early 2030s.
World Nuclear News 29th July 2021 read more »