Sian Crampsie

The UK’s Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is seeking partners for a project investigating the feasibility of deploying small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the UK.

The purpose of the project is to identify what activities need to take place in the next five years to enable deployment of SMRs.

ETI says it will invest up to £300 000 in the six-month project, which will exclude consideration of technology selection, cost estimates or the identification of funding to support such a programme.

Mike Middleton, Strategy Manager for Nuclear at the ETI said: "Our analysis has shown that new nuclear plants can form a major part of an affordable transition to a low carbon energy system, with both large nuclear and SMRs potentially playing a significant role.

"Due to their smaller size and easier siting, SMRs offer more flexibility and, as well as generating electricity, they could also deliver low carbon heat into cities via hot water pipelines, but there is still much uncertainty about the schedules for potential deployment in the UK.

"Action needs to be taken now if the option to deploy SMRs as part of the low carbon energy system transition is not to be closed off and this project will help to identify some of the key activities that need to take place between now and 2020 if a first of a kind plant is to be in operation between 2025 and 2030."

An earlier project carried out by ETI found that there are still many uncertainties regarding SMR development in the UK but that progress needs to made across a number of areas from 2016 if the option for UK SMRs is to be kept open.