Sheffield's nuclear power manufacturing plans '˜could receive government support'

Plans to make small nuclear reactors in Sheffield could receive government support, business secretary Greg Clark said, but its backers would have to demonstrate the electricity they produced was competitively priced.

Sunday, 28th October 2018, 2:34 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th October 2018, 2:43 pm
Business Secretary Greg Clark, centre, with Andrew Storer, Nuclear AMRC CEO and Craig Lester, BEIS Nuclear Specialist, on a visit to Nuclear AMRC. Picture: Marie Caley

Mr Clark said he was aware of a Sheffield University-led project to start manufacturing equipment for reactors, with the aim for SMRs to be producing electricity by 2028.

But it was for the university to say how they wanted to finance it.

Business Secretary Greg Clark, pictured meeting apprentices, during his visit to Nuclear AMRC. Picture: Marie Caley.

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Small reactors would be transportable, and could be installed in chains to match the output of traditional nuclear power stations, but at a fraction of the cost, it is claimed.

Mr Clark, who toured the university's Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, said: 'It's certainly on my radar. They have described the fact there is equipment here which is available.

'There is a lot of innovation here and people in industry are saying 2030 is possible. I featured nuclear in the Industrial Strategy and there's the recent Nuclear Sector Deal. But I've always been clear it needs to be competitive.

'Energy intensive users in South Yorkshire will feel, correctly, that energy prices are a big contributor to their costs. We can't be loading potential costs on to industrial or residential users.

'The responsibility I have is to welcome innovation but to see it reduce costs.'

Mr Clark said there had been government money for AMRC facilities and he was a 'great admirer' of executive dean Keith Ridgway and former vice chancellor Sir Keith Burnett.

He also attended the opening of Boeing Sheffield, the aerospace giant's first factory in Europe.

He told The Star there was 'good collaboration' in the region and a good workforce and training systems which and given the company the confidence to set up.

He added: 'I think there's a lot more to come. There is a lot of funding available for research and design, apprentices and advanced manufacturing which is now being awarded and implemented.'

Boeing received a £2.7m grant from the government through the industrial strategy. 

Mr Clark said: 'Boeing choosing the heart of South Yorkshire is testament to the reputation of Sheffield as a centre of innovation, advanced manufacturing and the UK's status as a world-leader in aviation. This new facility will export components around the world, boosting the UK supply chain and creating high quality jobs.'