NuScale, Bill Gates and Rolls-Royce are in a race to build UK-nuclear reactors

A US nuclear developer has announced that he is ready to enter the race for building new reactors in Britain and has asked the government to move faster when selecting a preferred technology.

NuScale of Oregon said that it was “very actively” engaged in the UK market, and would “engage in the activity surrounding the government’s SMR Competition”.

The UK has launched a competition to find suppliers for small modular reactors, which promise zero-emission and lower-cost nuclear energy as they can made in factories and assembled on-site. The huge overheads associated with large nuclear projects are reduced.

NuScale has developed VOYGR which is based upon a nuclear design known as a pressurised-water-cooled reactor. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has certified it as the first SMR.

Great British Nuclear, a new UK government body set up to select new projects, has been created. The UK government aims to select the winning SMR designs before autumn.

Tom Mundy said that NuScale did not need any development money from GBN, as the project was already ready for deployment. He said: “We do not need the suggested support… we are ready to deliver the projects much sooner than GBN suggested.”

GBN suggests that people can start building SMRs as early as 2030. Then you would have to make a final decision on your investment. It’s way too late. Mundy said, “We have customers who make final investment decisions earlier.” “Let’s get going.”

NuScale is competing with GE Hitachi from the US and Rolls-Royce which wants a contract in its own market. TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates and headed by him, has indicated it also wants to build nuclear plants in the UK. The company is developing a new type of SMR, called the advanced modular reactor (AMR).

NuScale, a spin-off from a university founded in 2007, will be listed on Nasdaq in 2022 with the ticker SMR. The company has a capitalisation of $1.7billion (PS1.4billion). It was awarded more than $1 billion by the US Department of Energy in 2020 for a SMR demonstration plant to be built in Idaho. The plant is expected to be operational in 2030.

NuScale has received funding to help advance its plans to build a SMR in Romania.