The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has expressed concerns regarding the UK Government’s stance on small modular reactors (SMRs).
Despite allocating £215 million towards SMR technology, the committee highlights unclear policy direction regarding SMRs’ role in the country’s energy mix.
The EAC stresses the necessity of government clarity, especially concerning investment decisions and SMR project commissioning.
As the first SMR is not projected to contribute to the grid until 2035, questions arise regarding its integration with renewable energy sources for achieving decarbonisation goals.
Moreover, evidence presented to the committee indicates potential challenges concerning waste management and regulatory processes.
Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Philip Dunne, said: “As a result of the UK’s push towards nuclear SMR technology, the UK has the opportunity to be a genuine world leader in the manufacture of SMR nuclear capability with great export potential.
“However, despite pledging hundreds of millions of pounds in support for SMR projects and undertaking to invest in the construction of the UK’s first SMR, the government’s overall vision for the sector at this stage lacks clarity: ministers might commission as much as 24GW in nuclear capacity by 2050, but could commission as little as 12GW.
“The first SMR is unlikely to be in operation by 2035, the date Ministers have set for decarbonising the electricity supply: so what role will SMRs have in an energy mix dominated by renewables and supplemented by existing and emerging large scale nuclear?”
A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson told Energy Live News: “The Nuclear Roadmap clearly sets out how we’re backing both small modular reactors and large-scale nuclear as part of the biggest expansion in 70 years, to help ensure up to a quarter of all UK power is generated from nuclear by 2050.
“Our world leading SMR competition aims to be the fastest of its kind, helping secure billions in investment for the UK, and delivering cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy for families and businesses.
“We are consulting on alternative routes to market for private sector projects and our plans will always be underpinned by robust value for money assessments.”