The UK government has launched its new £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to support the development of new nuclear energy projects.
Originally announced in last year’s Net Zero Strategy, the fund is intended to lower barriers to entry for new reactor designs, and will support the new target of 24GWe of nuclear power by 2050 announced in April’s British Energy Security Strategy.
The fund will provide targeted, competitively-allocated government grants which will help nuclear construction projects, including small modular reactors, to attract private investment. It is also intended to boost the resilience and capability of UK nuclear supply chains.
“By encouraging new companies to come forward and build in Britain, we can spur greater competition in the market to cut development costs so consumers benefit in the long-term,” said Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “Nuclear is central to our long-term plan bolster the UK’s energy security with cheaper, cleaner, home-grown power, while creating thousands of high-skilled jobs across our country.”
The government is now asking interested parties to register their interest in bidding for funding, and inviting further information on potential future projects. It is also inviting nuclear stakeholders who are not planning on bidding for the fund to provide information from their experience that will help to mature fund design before bids are formally opened in summer 2022.
The fund’s primary aim is to provide targeted support to address barriers to entry to the UK market, by providing competitively-allocated grant funding to nuclear projects with credible proposals. It will accelerate the commercialisation of different technologies, and help companies demonstrate readiness for the UK market.
Given the scale of investment required to mature a new nuclear project, the government expects to concentrate the funding on a small number of projects. All awards will be subject to robust eligibility and evaluation criteria and value-for-money assessments.
The government has also announced that Simon Bowen will lead development of the new Great British Nuclear vehicle announced in the Energy Security Strategy. Bowen is a former chief executive of Babcock International’s nuclear business, where he was responsible for Cavendish Nuclear and the defence nuclear portfolio.
Great British Nuclear Vehicle will be tasked with helping projects through every stage of the development process and developing a resilient pipeline of new builds. It will be supported by substantial funding to help get projects investment-ready and through the construction phase. The project selection process is expected to start in 2023.