U.K. nuclear funding awarded to X-energy, Cavendish

April 5, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

X-energy UK Holdings and Cavendish Nuclear together received a government award of £3.34 million ($4.23 million) for further development of advanced modular reactors. The award, which was announced earlier this week, is from the U.K. government’s Future Nuclear Enabling Fund.

X-energy will be matching the award amount, for a total of £6.68 million ($8.46 million). The companies will use the funds to develop U.K.-specific deployment plans, including an assessment of domestic manufacturing and supply chain opportunities, constructability, modularization studies, and fuel management.

Britain wants 25 percent of projected energy demand—24 gigawatts—by 2050 to be supplied by nuclear.

A closer look: The Future Nuclear Enabling Fund is a £120 million (nearly $152 million) government fund created in 2022 to support the development and acceleration of new nuclear projects across the United Kingdom. It provides targeted grants to help the industry reduce project risks so it is better positioned for future investment decisions.

X-energy and Cavendish Nuclear plan to develop a multibillion-pound 12-reactor plant near Hartlepool nuclear power plant, to be ready by the early 2030s. The companies intend to build a fleet of up to 40 advanced small modular Xe-100 reactors in the Britain, creating thousands of high-quality jobs in construction and operations. The project would provide 3,200 megawatts of electricity—enough power for 6 million homes—or 8,000 megawatts of versatile high-temperature heat and steam to support zero-carbon manufacturing and industrial processes.

The companies plan to engage with U.K. nuclear regulators to evaluate approaches to licensing the Xe-100 reactors. The design is already progressing through initial assessments by nuclear regulators in Canada and the United States.

Quotable: “We are backing innovation in nuclear—from building large-scale plants better to encouraging new advanced technologies—to achieve our ambition for a quarter of our electricity to come from nuclear power by 2050,” said Andrew Bowie, U.K. minister for nuclear and renewables. “This funding supports the next step in the development of advanced modular reactors and shows our commitment to keeping the UK at the forefront of nuclear technology.”

Carol Tansley, X-energy’s U.K. market leader and vice president of projects, said the British government’s support “reflects the readiness of our advanced technology to contribute to the U.K.’s energy needs in the next wave of new nuclear.”

“As X-energy’s U.K. deployment partner, we’re pleased to welcome this award as a key step forward. A fleet of Xe-100s can complement renewables by providing constant or flexible power and produce steam to decarbonize industry and manufacture hydrogen and synthetic transport fuels,” said Mick Gornall, managing director of Cavendish Nuclear. “Deployment in the U.K. will create thousands of high-quality, long-term jobs across the country.”

Partnerships: X-energy and Cavendish Nuclear will partner with Kier Group, a U.K.-based provider of construction and infrastructure services, to support constructability and supply chain analyses. Kier joins steel producer and engineer Sheffield Forgemasters and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to support the two companies in the completion of the scope outlined in the funding proposal. The companies’ goal is for 80 percent of the value of the Xe-100 projects to flow to U.K. firms.

Last year X-energy and Cavendish Nuclear signed a memorandum of understanding with Glasgow-based gas circulator manufacturer Howden. They will also work with Nuclear Waste Services to review the approach to spent fuel management.

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