Planned UK nuclear reactors unlikely to help hit green target, say MPs

(The Guardian, 13 Feb 2024) Government plans to deliver SMRs ‘lack clarity’ say environmental committee, and will likely fail to meet clean-energy goal of 2035.

MPs have warned that a planned fleet of small nuclear reactors are unlikely to contribute to hitting a key target in decarbonising Britain’s electricity generation, as the government opened talks to buy a site in Wales for a new power station.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said that ministers’ approach to developing factory-built nuclear power plants “lacks clarity” and their role in hitting a goal of moving the grid to clean energy by 2035 was unclear.

Last year a body, Great British Nuclear, was launched with the aim of delivering new power stations, including a fleet of small modular reactors (SMRs). The government has spent £215m on developing SMR design and is running a competition for companies to bid for government contracts.

The government hopes SMRs will make nuclear power stations easier and cheaper to build.

However, in examining the role of SMRs, the EAC heard that a final investment decision on the first station in the UK is not expected until 2029. The timeline means it is unlikely to contribute to the 2035 target, or Labour’s pledge to run the grid on clean energy by 2030.

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The Guardian, 13 Feb 2024: Planned UK nuclear reactors unlikely to help hit green target, say MPs