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Development of small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced modular reactors (AMRs): CoRWM position paper

There is considerable interest in the development of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) and Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) designs and their commercial deployment, both for energy security and net zero, particularly given the historic difficulties of deploying reactors at gigawatt (GW) scale.

The management of spent fuel and radioactive waste from these new reactors must also be considered when selecting technologies for investment, further development, construction and operation.

This CoRWM position paper provides recommendations to the UK Government, Great British Nuclear, and Nuclear Waste Services and regulators to consider as SMR and AMR deployment is progressed.

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Civil nuclear: roadmap to 2050

The civil nuclear roadmap sets out the government’s vision for a dynamic civil nuclear sector, supporting the ambition to achieve net zero by 2050.

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Delivery of an operational geological disposal facility (GDF): progress report 2023

This is the first in a series of CoRWM Annual Reports on the progress towards the delivery of an operational geological disposal facility (GDF).

We aim to set out how the GDF project is progressing from the perspective of CoRWM, as an independent arm’s length body which has been structured to provide a wide range of advice on public engagement, planning, regulation, and scientific and technical aspects of the project.

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ANT Grant Funding Announced at GBN Launch Event

On 18th July 2023 DESNZ Secretary of State Grant Shapps announced the launch of new UK nuclear body Great British Nuclear. GBN is tasked with helping deliver the government’s commitment to provide a quarter of the UK’s electricity from nuclear energy by 2050. In addition grant funding was announced to support several Advanced Nuclear technology (ANT) projects.

  • Companies can register their interest with GBN to participate in a competition to secure funding support to develop their Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology.
  • Up to £53.5 million funding to support 2 high temperature gas reactor (HTGR) reactor designs and to develop sovereign coated particle fuel capability, a type of robust advanced fuel which is suitable for high temperature reactors. The reactor programme will fund Front End Engineering Design and supporting activities until March 2025, to help enable an AMR demonstration by the early 2030s as part of the AMR Research Development and Demonstration (RD&D) Phase B. Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) UK will build on USNC’s existing micro modular reactor (MMR®) design to develop a modified MMR3 design that is best suited to UK industry’s current and projected future process heat demands. National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) in partnership with its Japanese counterpart the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) will progress the design of an HTGR based on the decades of HTGR R&D in Japan. The UK Coated Particle Fuel programme is led by NNL working with support from JAEA and will continue a vital programme to develop and produce coated particle fuel.
  • Separately DESNZ has awarded up to £4 million funding to Ove Arup and Partners Limited who are leading a consortium with partners NNL and Bangor University for the AMR Knowledge Capture project, as a complementary project to the AMR RD&D programme. The project seeks to facilitate knowledge capture and sharing to reduce the time, risk, and cost of AMR RD&D programme delivery, and provide UK organisations with valuable knowledge to leverage against international funding.

Powering Up Britain

Powering Up Britain, announced on the 30th of March 2023 is the government’s blueprint for the future of energy in the UK. It brings together the Energy Security Plan, and the Net Zero Growth Plan to explain how we will diversify, decarbonise and domesticate energy production by investing in renewables and nuclear, to power Britain from Britain. It sets out the extraordinary opportunities opening up in technologies like Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage, Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing, and Hydrogen, which will not only help us reach net zero, but also consolidate Britain’s position as a global leader in green energy. Importantly, it reiterates the target of up to 24 GW of nuclear power by 2050, supported by the launch of Great British Nuclear.


Nuclear Fuel Fund Launched

In July 2022 a Request for Information (RFI) was launched asking the UK nuclear fuel industry to share views on the challenges facing the sector and barriers to investment, give
feedback on the proposed fund design, and provide information regarding the potential projects that could be put forward for funding. After considering the responses to this RFI, BEIS are now launching the Nuclear Fuel Fund (NFF) with up to £75m in grant funding available. The strategic aim of the Nuclear Fuel Fund is to support the UK fuel supply chain to develop the capabilities needed to meet fuel demand for current and future reactors in the UK and globally. The NFF will therefore seek to support projects which will develop the front-end supply chain (excluding mining and milling) for relevant uranium and fuel product.


Showcasing the National Nuclear User Facility (NNUF)

Background to NNUF

In 2019, the UK Government awarded £80m to be managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to create new nuclear-related facilities mostly in universities, accessible by researchers from UK Higher Education Institutes and National Labs alike. This programme is called the National Nuclear User Facility, NNUF.

New laboratories and key experimental tools have been created in 30 locations to enable research on active materials covering the following areas:

  • Underpinning science
  • Nuclear Fuel
  • Advanced Modular Reactors
  • Life Extension
  • Materials Degradation
  • Fusion
  • Radioisotopes
  • Environmental
  • Small Modular Reactors
  • Robotics in harsh environments
  • Legacy disposal / waste
  • Irradiation of Materials

This programme includes £6.5m to support access to these active laboratories and instruments.

Showcasing the Benefits of NNUF

NIRO is delighted to have been asked by BEIS to produce a summary brochure, on behalf of NNUF participants, to showcase the impacts this programme has had so far.


For more Information, or to contribute a case study: please contact

More details on NNUF can be found at


Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Research, Development and Demonstration Programme: Phase B Competition Launched

Following up on Phase A of the RD&D programme to support the development and demonstration of High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) technology in the UK, BEIS have now launched Phase B of the competition. Phase B provides up to £55 million to produce up to two HTGR Front-End Engineering Designs (FEED) mature enough to enter regulatory review, including scope for associated research and development activities, and a robust delivery plans for a potential Phase C which could include detailed design and construction.
Find out more about the Phase B competition here


NIRO publishes the Nuclear Innovation Programme Summary Brochure

At Spending Review 2015, government committed to invest in an ambitious nuclear research and development programme named the 'Nuclear Innovation Programme' forming part of the wider Energy Innovation Programme. The Nuclear Innovation Programme ran from 2016 to 2022, supporting innovation to deliver cost effective solutions contributing to a decarbonised energy supply, economic growth, and jobs in the UK energy sector and its supply chain.  This brochure, published by NIRO, provides an insight into the areas of work undertaken and how technology and innovation in the nuclear sector has been enhanced by the programme.

Specific project contacts are shared at the bottom of each page to allow you to follow up further, for general enquires please contact BEIS or NIRO: or

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NIRO publishes the 2nd Edition of the UK Nuclear Fission R&D Catalogue

The production of the UK Fission R&D Catalogue followed a recommendation from the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB), that the UK government through the department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), should commission the production of a catalogue of the UK civil nuclear research facilities and capabilities. Issue 1 of the Fission R&D Catalogue was published in August 2021, showcasing 95 facilities across the UK with the aim to provide a comprehensive list of all equipment and capabilities, updated contacts for users and access requirements.

This updated edition of the catalogue now provides information for 166 UK facilities, helping small and large companies, government departments, laboratories and academic institutes alike to better inform projects, programmes and investment decisions regarding the potential for collaboration and shared use of facilities and expertise. The information in these pages has been provided by the organisations listed, NIRO have complied these submissions into the catalogue to give an overview of UK Nuclear Fission R&D facilities, equipment and capabilities.

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Environmental permitting of Sizewell C

In May 2020, NNB Generation Company (SZC) Limited applied to the Environment Agency (EA) for 3 environmental permits to operate Sizewell C. 
The permits are to, dispose of and discharge radioactive waste, operate standby power supply systems using diesel generators and discharge cooling water and liquid effluent into the North Sea

The EA proposed decision is that they should issue all 3 permits and consider that the limits and conditions in the permits are suitable to protect people and the environment.
The EA are inviting comments up until 25th September 2022 on their proposed decisions, draft permits and supporting documents, welcoming everyone’s views including the public, the energy industry, academics with an interest in nuclear power, energy or the environment, non-governmental organisations and any other organisation or public body.

You can find out more on the BEIS website here Environmental permitting of Sizewell C: consultation summary document and 

Environment Agency website here Information regarding three new environmental permit applications for the proposed Sizewell C power station site


Launch of Future Nuclear Enabling Fund (FNEF)

A £120 million government fund designed to unlock and accelerate new nuclear technologies while encouraging new players into the market opened in mid-May.
The Future Nuclear Enabling Fund (FNEF) will help to realise the government’s ambition to approve 8 new reactors by 2030, as committed to in the British Energy Security Strategy in April.
FNEF will provide targeted, competitively-allocated government grants which will help nuclear construction projects, including small modular reactors, to attract the private investment they need to help make them a reality.
The government asked interested parties to register their interest in bidding for funding and inviting further information on potential future projects
The primary aim of the Future Nuclear Enabling Fund 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. In this way, the FNEF will accelerate the commercialisation of different technologies and help companies demonstrate readiness for the UK market.

Find out more here 


Government response to consultation on Designing a UK low carbon hydrogen standard

Following on from the release of the UK Hydrogen Strategy, BEIS opened a consultation seeking views on design options for a UK standard that defines 'low carbon' hydrogen. This received 125 responses from a wide range of stakeholders and led to the release of the government response and helped shape the design of the UK Low Carbon Hydrogen Standard guidance published alongside this government response. 

The government response talks favourably about nuclear with statements like “….half of this being from electrolytic hydrogen, drawing on the scale up of the UK's renewables and new nuclear capacity” and “The UK Low Carbon Hydrogen standard has already been designed to accommodate all production pathways capable of meeting the requirements under the standard, including hydrogen from nuclear pathways, and the increased ambition for new nuclear this decade opens up further opportunities for nuclear hydrogen. The Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF) and Low Carbon Hydrogen Business Model (HBM) have also been designed to support all forms of hydrogen production, including from nuclear energy, provided projects meet eligibility requirements.

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Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Research, Development and Demonstration Programme: Phase A competition

Following on from the news article below on AMR Market Engagement, BEIS is providing up to £2.5 million in innovation funding to support the development and demonstration of High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) technology in the UK. Through a pre-commercial, fully funded Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), the Phase A competition aims to fund up to 6 Pre-FEED (Front End Engineering Design) studies across 2 key technology lots. These are: Lot 1: Reactor Demonstration (up to 4 Pre-FEED studies will be awarded) for projects developing Advanced Modular HTGR technologies, with up to £500,000 available for each project Lot 2: Fuel Demonstration (up to 2 Pre-FEED studies will be awarded) for projects developing Coated Particle Fuel (CPF) for HTGR technologies, with up to £250,000 available for each project

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Launch of British energy security strategy

The ‘British energy security strategy’ builds on the Prime Minister’s ‘Ten point plan for a green industrial revolution’, and the ‘Net zero strategy’.

This plan comes in light of rising global energy prices, provoked by surging demand after the pandemic as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This will be central to weaning Britain off expensive fossil fuels, which are subject to volatile gas prices set by international markets we are unable to control, and boosting our diverse sources of homegrown energy for greater energy security in the long-term.

Within the strategy there is a significant focus on nuclear, including increasing plans for deployment of civil nuclear to up to 24GW by 2050 – 3 times more than now and representing up to 25% of our projected electricity demand and setting up the Great British Nuclear Vehicle this year, tasked with helping projects through every stage of the development process and developing a resilient pipeline of new builds.

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Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Research, Development and Demonstration Programme: market engagement

BEIS plans to procure work under Phase A of the Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Research, Development and Demonstration Programme and have published a Prior Information Notice which sets out their intention to launch a formal Invitation To Tender (ITT) for Phase A in Spring 2022. Before BEIS publish the ITT, they are carrying out market engagement on the proposed approach.

The aim of the Programme is to demonstrate that HTGRs can produce high temperature heat which could be used for low-carbon hydrogen production and process heat for industrial and domestic, as well as cost-competitive electricity generation, in time for any potential commercial AMRs to support Net Zero by 2050. The scope of Phase A aims to understand the potential size, type, cost and delivery method for a HTGR demonstration by allowing industry to propose options against the overarching Programme aim.
Interested stakeholders should visit the link above for the indicative outline of the Programme and the opportunity to provide feedback.

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Outcome of Government’s Call for Evidence

In July 2021, a call for evidence was launched in order to seek views on the government’s preference to explore the potential of High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGR) for the Advanced Modular Reactor Research Development & Demonstration (AMR RD&D) Programme.

The call found no significant, additional evidence to materially change the outcome of the government's underpinning analysis.

As a result, the Programme will focus on High Temperature Gas Reactors with the ambition for this to lead to a HTGR demonstration by the early 2030s at the latest.


Government commits £210 million to develop SMRs in the UK

Next steps in developing the design for one of the world’s first small modular reactors (SMR) has been backed by £210 million in new government funding for Rolls-Royce SMR, the UK government has announced today (Tuesday 9 November 2021), delivering on the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and creating good high-skilled jobs.

Matched by private sector funding of over £250 million, today’s investment will take forward phase 2 of the Low-Cost Nuclear project to further develop SMR design and take it through the regulatory processes to assess suitability of potential deployment in the UK.

New nuclear has a crucial role to play in providing reliable, affordable, low carbon energy as Britain works to reduce its dependency on volatile fossil fuels and exposure to global gas price spikes.


Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener

The Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener sets out the UK Government’s long term plan to reduce the UKs greenhouse gas emissions to “as close to zero as possible”, including policies and proposals to meet carbon budgets and a vision for a decarbonised economy in 2050.
The Strategy mentions Nuclear throughout, including the key Policy to “Secure a final investment decision on a large-scale nuclear plant by the end of this Parliament, and launch a new £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund, retaining options for future nuclear technologies, including Small Modular Reactors, with a number of potential sites including Wylfa in North Wales”.


UK Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework

The UK Net Zero Research and Innovation Framework sets out the research and innovation challenges, needs and opportunities of Power, Industry and low carbon hydrogen supply,
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) and Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR),
Heat and buildings, Transport and Natural resources, Waste and F-gases.

As well as reinforcing how nuclear can support the power sector the framework also presents how nuclear can support a flexible energy system, including sharing a roadmap to “Develop and deploy small modular reactors (SMRs) and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors (AMRs) for electricity generation, hydrogen, and heat”.
The framework further explores supporting the underpinning of nuclear heat to energise zero carbon district heating systems and supporting efficient, cost-effective production of low carbon hydrogen at scale. Presenting the broad range of opportunities to support in decarbonising the energy sector this framework supports the Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener launched at the same time.


Future funding for nuclear plants

The Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill will introduce a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model as an option to fund future nuclear projects. A RAB model is a tried and tested method, typically used in the UK, to finance large scale infrastructure assets such as water, gas and electricity networks. Under this model a company receives a licence from an economic regulator to charge a regulated price to consumers in exchange for providing the infrastructure in question.

The RAB model differs from the Contract for Difference (CfD) approach that was used to finance Hinkley Point C. With the Hinkley CfD, the developer agreed to pay the entire cost of constructing the plant, in return for an agreed fixed price (often referred to as the ‘strike price’) for electricity output once the plant is online. This is ultimately funded by consumers, who will pay the difference between the wholesale electricity price and the final strike price, but consumers will not start paying until the power station is up and running. In contrast, the RAB model shares the cost with consumers from the start, reducing the amount of interest owed on loans. This ensures the burden on consumers is much lower over the life of the plant whilst helping to attract private sector investment into nuclear projects.

Find out more on the BEIS website here- Future funding for nuclear plants


Public dialogue on Advanced Nuclear Technologies

The Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have published the Public dialogue report, exploring public attitudes towards small and advanced modular reactors.

The Public dialogue explored citizens’ attitudes towards Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANT), including views on the future siting and deployment of ANT, the role for ANT in achieving net zero and the potential ‘beyond-grid’ applications of nuclear energy for example hydrogen production or heat for industrial processes.

The dialogue, undertaken with 71 participants across Porthmadog, Reading and Scunthorpe, showed the that majority of participants had a caveated support for the siting and deployment of ANT to support net zero. 

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Hydrogen Strategy launched

The Hydrogen Strategy has been launched by the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy. The strategy is accompanied by an Analytical Index and sets out the approach for the UK to build a thriving hydrogen economy to meet the ambition for 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030. In the 2020 Annual Report, NIRAB recommended that nuclear is more widely recognised for its ability to support decarbonisation through low carbon hydrogen production. This has been incorporated to the Hydrogen Strategy throughout by recognising the potential for existing and future nuclear technologies to support electrolytic and thermochemical methods of hydrogen production.

The Strategy was published alongside the following consultations:

Low Carbon Hydrogen Standards Consultation
Net Zero Hydrogen Fund Consultation
Hydrogen Business Model Consultation

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NIRO publishes the UK Nuclear Fission R&D Catalogue

The production of this catalogue follows a recommendation from NIRAB, that the UK Government through the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), should commission the production of a catalogue of the UK civil nuclear research facilities and capabilities.

This catalogue brings together and builds on existing information about UK Nuclear Fission R&D facilities. It aims to provide a comprehensive list of all equipment and capabilities, updated contacts for users and access requirements. The information in these pages has been provided by the organisations listed, NIRO have complied these submissions into the catalogue to give an overview of UK Nuclear Fission R&D facilities, equipment and capabilities.

The catalogue can be downloaded via the link below and is also mentioned on the BEIS Nuclear Innovation page.

Click here for a Web Version

Government progresses demonstration of next generation nuclear reactor

The UK government’s suggested approach to building the first advanced modular reactor (AMR) demonstrator was set out in a Call for Evidence, published 29 July 2021. This approach will explore high temperature gas reactors (HTGRs) as the most promising model for the demonstration programme.

Further to this, the government continues to support the development of a wide variety of nuclear technologies, announcing the piloting of an Advanced Nuclear Skills and Innovation Campus, being developed by the National Nuclear Laboratory. Located in Preston, it will serve as an innovation hub, bringing together industry and academia to collaborate on projects which help develop and commercialise advanced nuclear technologies. You can read more about this in NNL’s press release here

Government progresses demonstration of next generation nuclear reactor - GOV.UK (


Nuclear Innovation & Research Office (NIRO) technical assessment of the six main Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) technologies

The Nuclear Innovation & Research Office (NIRO) performed a technical assessment of the six main Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) technologies to support government decision making on the AMR Research, Development, and Demonstration programme. The assessment points to High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs) as the preferred AMR of choice as they are assessed to have the greatest potential to meet the UK’s primary objectives of making a significant contribution to Net Zero by 2050 via multiple energy vectors. Further development and demonstration of HTGRs is needed to establish the viability to deliver on heat and hydrogen energy vectors and enable demonstration in the early 2030s. This assessment should not preclude future Government and/or private sector support for the development of other AMR technologies, and NIRO suggest that technical expertise and knowledge of other systems in the UK should be maintained. This paper supports the Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy’s Call for Evidence on the potential of high temperature gas reactors to support the AMR RD&D programme.

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Call for Evidence on the potential of high temperature gas reactors to support the Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Research, Development & Demonstration (RD&D) programme

The Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy has launched a Call for Evidence on the potential of high temperature gas reactors to support the AMR RD&D programme, underpinned by a NIRO report on Advanced modular reactors (AMRs): technical assessment

In the 2020 Annual Report NIRAB recommended an appropriate down selection of AMR technologies for a reactor demonstrator should be completed as soon as possible, and considers that High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs) are the technology that is most likely to be developed and be commercially available to make a significant contribution to meeting net zero 2050 targets.

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NIRAB Welcomes Ten Point Plan

NIRAB welcomes the publication of the UK Government’s ten point plan to support a “green industrial revolution” and is pleased to note that the significant contribution that can be made by nuclear power to Net Zero is recognised. The proposals in the Plan align with the recommendations made by NIRAB in its report “Achieving Net Zero: The role of Nuclear Energy in Decarbonisation, June 2020”

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NIRAB Annual Report 2020 issued

Achieving Net Zero: The role of Nuclear Energy in Decarbonisation

NIRAB publishes its work from 2019/20 with a series of recommendations for Government regarding research and development to support implementation of nuclear energy options.

This report provides a summary of the activity of NIRAB since April 2018. It reflects the progress made by NIRAB in formulating advice to Government on the future role of new nuclear energy as a means to achieve net zero by 2050 and in doing so create positive economic impact and jobs. A number of recommendations for action are made.

NIRAB proposes that three streams of nuclear product development and deployment should be progressed to supply the energy needs of the population and support economic prosperity without impacting on climate change or air quality:

- Large scale Light Water Reactors (LWR), which are currently available and suitable for baseload electricity generation;

- Small Modular Reactors (SMR), which are based on the same proven technology and can offer additional flexibility
to meet local energy needs;

- Advanced Modular Reactors (AMR), which typically have a higher temperature output, consequently enabling
them to contribute to decarbonisation through heat and hydrogen production, as well as generate electricity at
competitive costs.

NIRAB believes it is time to move forward towards demonstration of both Small Modular Reactor and Advanced Modular Reactor systems with appropriate underpinning R&D programmes to support the decarbonisation of the UK economy. NIRAB makes 6 recommendations to Government to enable this to be achieved.

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The UK Civil Nuclear R&D Landscape Survey published

This document presents the results of a survey of the UK civil nuclear R&D landscape in the 2018/19 financial year. It is an update to the landscape review published by Government in 2017. It provides information on the Government policy landscape, funding sources, magnitude, location and focus of research and development being undertaken in the UK and the level of experience of the R&D community currently engaged in civil nuclear research.

The survey results show that:

- Overall it is estimated that there has been an underlying 3% increase in the number of researchers engaged in civil nuclear research in the UK compared to 2015/16.

- The figure for total funding for 2018/19 was around £331million. This represents an increase of around 39% relative to 2015/16. This increase in funding is distributed across public, private and overseas sources.

- Funding for research into advanced nuclear fission technologies remains low; this was also a key conclusion in both the 2017 and 2013 surveys.

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NIRAB welcomes BEIS’ energy announcements

“On the 22 July 2019 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released a statement covering a broad portfolio of energy packages that will assist in underpinning the Government approach to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. NIRAB welcomes the suite of packages that have been proposed which closely align with NIRAB recommendations published recently [1]. In particular the commitment to the development of Advanced Nuclear Technology systems, including the development of a UK Small Modular Reactor will create value to the UK. Furthermore, the announcement of a consultation on the Regulator Asset Base model is welcomed and NIRAB would like to encourage any interested parties to respond. Please see [2] “