Funding to support UK deployment of BWRX-300

25 January 2024

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has been awarded a GBP33.6 million (USD42.7 million) grant to support it in developing its BWRX-300 small modular reactor in the UK. The design will now enter the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process.

A rendering of a BWRX-300 plant (Image: GE Hitachi)

GEH submitted its Future Nuclear Enabling Fund application with an experienced UK team including Jacobs, Laing O'Rourke and Cavendish Nuclear along with Synthos Green Energy, an investor and developer from Poland.

GEH said it is developing a UK supply chain which includes a memorandum of understanding with Sheffield Forgemasters for a potential supply agreement for UK-sourced steel forgings in support of the deployment of BWRX-300 small modular reactors (SMRs).

GEH's Future Nuclear Enabling Fund (FNEF) project includes a two-step GDA and Enterprise Readiness activities including an Advanced Manufacturing Plan and Operator Plan.

The Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) has now said the application "exceeded the quality thresholds across all four assessment criteria and successfully completed the department's due diligence and governance approvals processes".

In addition to awarding the grant, DESNZ has requested the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), along with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales, start a two-step GDA of the BWRX-300 reactor.

GDA is a process carried out by the ONR and the environmental regulators to assess the safety, security, and environmental protection aspects of a nuclear power plant design that is intended to be deployed in Great Britain. Successful completion of the GDA culminates in the issue of a Design Acceptance Confirmation from the ONR and a Statement of Design Acceptability from the Environment Agency. In May 2021, the GDA process was opened up to advanced nuclear technologies, including SMRs.

GEH will be supported in the GDA by Jacobs, which has supported applications for new nuclear power plant projects in the UK since 2007. In October, it was announced that GEH has reached the next stage of the Great British Nuclear SMR competition.

"We believe our BWRX-300 small modular reactor is an ideal solution for the UK's decarbonisation and energy security goals, and we appreciate the UK Government making this FNEF grant available to help demonstrate this," said GEH President and CEO Jay Wileman. "We have assembled a first-class team to deliver the BWRX-300 in the UK and this FNEF grant will help accelerate regulatory acceptance and its deployment readiness while we continue to develop a robust UK supply chain."

"The biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years is under way in the UK and small modular reactors are front and centre in this rapid revival," Minister for Nuclear Andrew Bowie said. "Today's GBP33.6 million in funding for GE Hitachi will help develop their design, putting us in an excellent position to become one of the first to deploy this game-changing tech."

The GBP120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund was launched by the UK government in May 2022 to support development of new nuclear energy projects, stimulate competition in the industry and unlock investment across the UK. The fund will help the government reach its ambitions for 24 GW of nuclear generating capacity by 2050.

In early December last year, Holtec International's UK subsidiary, Holtec Britain, was awarded a GBP30 million (USD37.7 million) Future Nuclear Enabling Fund grant for its SMR-300 design to complete Steps 1 and 2 of the GDA, as well as constructability and safety case assessments and completion of associated technical deliverables, including those of the safety, security and environmental cases.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News