North West shares in £40m of funding to kick-start next-gen nuclear technology

The Government today announced £40m of funding to unlock thousands of green jobs by developing the next generation of nuclear energy technology.

Several schemes are situated in the North West.

Part of this funding will support three Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) projects, which are far smaller than traditional nuclear plants and use intense heat generated in nuclear reactions to produce low-carbon electricity.

They can be used at remote locations thanks to their size, and can produce enough energy to power anything from a small village to a medium-sized city.

Up to £30m of funding will speed up the development of the three AMR projects, including sites in Cheshire and Lancashire, and drive them closer towards supplying low-carbon energy to the nation.

The remaining £10m will be invested into unlocking smaller research, design, and manufacturing projects to create up to 200 jobs.

Minister for Business and Industry, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “Advanced modular reactors are the next step in nuclear energy and have the potential to be a crucial part of tackling carbon emissions and climate change.

“Today’s investment will immediately create new jobs in Oxfordshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. But through this vital research, the technology could also create thousands more green collar jobs for decades to come.”

Today’s funding will ensure the technology is more attractive to private sector investors, supercharging the development of the industry and creating supply chains feeding future modular reactor developments.”

The two successful North West AMR projects, awarded £10m funding each, are:

  • Westinghouse, Lancashire – developing a lead-cooled fast reactor, a type of fission reactor
  • U-Battery, Cheshire – working on a small high temperature gas-cooled fission reactor

On top of funding the AMR projects, the Government will invest £10m into turbocharging the industry – £5m of that will be invested in British companies and start-ups, developing new ways of manufacturing advanced nuclear parts for modular reactor projects both at home and abroad.

Regional projects that have secured funding so far include:

U-Battery, Concept Development and Demonstrator for U-Battery AMR Off-Site Modular Construction in Capenhurst – £1.1m
Jacobs, Evaluation Technologies for Advanced Manufacturing Qualification in Warrington – £181,431

Createc Technologies, MW-CT in Whitehaven – £314,595

Cammell Laird, FAITH in the Wirral – £5.1m

The remaining £5m will be put to strengthening the UK’s nuclear regulatory regime, ensuring it remains one of the most robust and safest in the world as the UK looks to develop and deploy advanced nuclear technologies.

Recent research has shown that the UK’s entire nuclear industry could contribute £9.6bn per annum to the economy and support 130,000 jobs by 2050, as well as creating significant export potential for AMR technology.

AMRs also provide the possibility to diversify the UK’s low-carbon energy mix by producing heat for industry and zero-carbon hydrogen, and have already demonstrated the potential to stimulate private investment.

A significant part of the UK’s nuclear research takes place in a belt running from Cumbria to North Wales – a region that could be set to benefit from the nuclear industry’s enormous potential for job creation, in part thanks to this investment.