The government’s energy white paper will be published in the “early summer”, a minister has revealed.


Pressed on the timing of the long-awaited policy paper last week during a debate on small modular reactors (SMRs) in the House of Commons, junior business minister Richard Harrington said: “That will happen in the next few months – in early summer.”


“Our intention is that nuclear, and the small modular reactors side of it, will be developed in the white paper,” he said, adding that SMRs are the “core” of the government’s strategy for developing nuclear power. The small scale of SMRs compared to large scale nuclear plants would whet investors’ appetite, Harrington said: “It will work for smaller nuclear developments as well as large ones, because institutions obviously like to invest in smaller chunks.”


Institutions are also “very interested” in the regulated asset base model, which enables investors to recoup payments from projects even before they have began to generate revenues.


However SMRs are no cheaper to deliver than large scale nuclear projects, said shadow energy spokesman Dr Alan Whitehead; “They do not appear likely to be any cheaper than existing nuclear,” he said.


Trudy Harrison, MP for the Cumbrian constituency of Copeland which incorporates the aborted Moorside project, said government support isd required to get the SMR programme off the ground.


“We cannot do this without government support. We have the capability and the demonstrable need. The industry is desperate to be part of the solution, but we must have the government’s financial policy and industrial support to take this forward.


“Small reactors have a complementary role in contributing to the energy mix. Because of the economies of scale that could be achieved by building multiple reactors, having many more small modular reactors could be the key to our energy future.”


She pressed the government to consider the Fellside site at Sellafield as a suitable location for a SMR project when its existing combined heat and power plant goes out of service later this year.


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