GE Hitachi gets backing from U.K. future nuclear fund

January 31, 2024, 9:32AMNuclear News

The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Enabling Fund (FNEF) awarded £33.6 million (about U.S.$42.8 million) to GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy last week.

The move comes as part of the FNEF’s support for growing the Britain’s generation of 24 GW of nuclear by 2050. The country currently produces around 9,100 megawatts per year.

“The biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years is underway in the U.K., and small modular reactors are front and center in this rapid revival,” said Andrew Bowie, minister for nuclear. “[This] £33.6 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. This means cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy for families and businesses.”

A closer look: GEH, an arm of the U.S.-based GE Vernova, submitted its FNEF grant application with an experienced U.K. team, including Jacobs Laing O’Rourke, Cavendish Nuclear, and Synthos Green energy—an investor of developer from Poland.

In parallel, the GE team is developing a U.K. supply chain that includes a memorandum of understanding with Sheffield Forgemasters for a potential supply agreement for U.K.-sourced steel forgings in support of the deployment of BWRX-300 SMRs.

In addition, GEH will begin the generic design assessment process for the BWRX-300. In October 2023, the company advanced in the Great British Nuclear SMR competition.

Quotable: “We have confidence in our plans and we’re ready to go: the BWRX-300 is a deliverable design, which is why we have been selected for programs around the world, including Canada, Poland, and the United States,” said Sean Sexstone, GEH’s executive vice president of advanced nuclear. “We will work together with the U.K. government to deliver a fleet of reactors here that can help the U.K. government meet its target of adding up 24 GW of nuclear capacity by 2050.”

More on the reactor: Advanced nuclear technologies like the BWRX-300 are a key pillar in transitioning GE Vernova’s leadership. In addition to helping customers achieve decarbonization goals, the BWRX-300 is designed to reduce construction and operating costs. Specifically, the reactor leverages a unique combination of existing fuel, plant simplifications, proven components, and a design based on an NRC-certified reactor design.

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