The UK Government is about to launch a fund to finance the development of small modular SMR reactors. China and the United States are the first to benefit from these resources. It is estimated that 100 million euros will be allocated to support the technology of mini nuclear power plants.
While France is struggling with a troubled exit from its nuclear stage and, on the other side of the world, Japan struggles to write the end of the Fukushima disaster, there are those who plan an energy future for the atom. We are not talking about an emerging economy, but the UK, which, despite all the evidence, is determined to embark on an uphill energy path.
After the difficult and expensive launch of the Hinlkey Point C, London is turning the nuclear sector around again: the government is preparing a £ 1 billion fund to support the development of mini-nuclear power plants.
It is the first generation of SMR (Modular Nuclear Reactors) technology, fission units much smaller than conventional ones (approximately 300 MW of power, as defined by the IAEA), which are assembled directly at the factory and transported on site . SMRs would allow less slag and use less water for cooling. And above all they considerably reduce construction costs. This means, however, the creation of a specific production line that, to be economically sustainable, should have high initial orders.
Hence the UK’s decision to strongly support the sector, as revealed by The Guardian newspaper, and to guarantee the country a competitive advantage, both in terms of technology and energy production. In fact, the first financial aid was promised by George Osborne two years ago. Since then, British, American and Chinese companies have been lobbying the government. According to rumors in the English newspaper, Energy Minister Richard Harrington is expected to announce new financial support shortly.
However, several national energy experts condemn this choice. The reason? The technology is still in its infancy and in the country, the costs of renewable energy, especially electricity produced by offshore wind farms, are proving to be the cheapest alternative to nuclear. Paul Dorfman, a researcher at the University College of London, explains: ” The real question that the government must ask is this: given the continuous and sometimes drastic reduction in the costs of renewable energy sources, and given that the research and RLG development is still underway, when modular nuclear reactors come onto the market, can they really be economically competitive with renewable energy? The answer to this question is no “.