25 July 2023

Great British Nuclear and small modular reactor technology competition launched by the UK Government

The UK Government is fulfilling its commitment to lead the way in nuclear technologies, with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) declaring the establishment of Great British Nuclear (GBN).

GBN to act as the driving force for the UK’s nuclear power promises

GBN will be dedicated to accelerating the expansion of the UK’s nuclear power, which will in turn diminish reliance on unpredictable fossil fuel imports, enhance energy security, and provide more cost-effective power solutions. It is projected that the nuclear industry will add approximately £6 billion to the UK economy.

The government has ambitions to generate up to 25% of the UK’s electricity through domestically produced nuclear energy by 2050, aiming to secure one of the most affordable wholesale electricity rates in Europe. Furthermore, this initiative will contribute to job creation across the country.

The UK Government also reinforced its commitment to nuclear power mega projects, highlighting that GBN will be working with Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C to assess the prospective contribution of additional large gigawatt-scale nuclear power plants in the UK’s energy portfolio.

Small modular reactor (SMR) competition kickstarted

Alongside the launch of GBN, the UK Government has launched an SMR competition, which will give those who enter the chance to obtain funding for their products. As SMRs are smaller than conventional reactors, they can be created in factories which may lead to the transformation of power stations, as the construction process will be more cost-effective and speedier.

GBN will evaluate the technologies submitted to the competition and will then engage in comprehensive discussions with the companies that meet the criteria as part of an ‘Invitation to Negotiate’ phase. The final selection will take place in the third quarter of this year.

Grant funding package of up to £157 million announced

In addition to the launch of GBR and the SMR technology competition, the UK Government announced various funding initiatives related to boosting the UK’s nuclear industry.

£77.1 million has been pledged towards funding advanced nuclear business development in the UK, as well as to aid with entering advanced nuclear designs in the UK’s regulation.

A further £58 million has been allocated towards the development and design of an advanced modular reactor (AMR) and next generation fuel. AMRs, which operate at higher temperatures than SMRs, have the potential to supply high temperature heat for hydrogen production and other industrial applications in addition to nuclear power. Funding towards the winning projects included £22.5 million to Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation UK based in Warrington, £15 million to National Nuclear laboratory in Warrington, and £16 million to National Nuclear Laboratory in Preston.

The Nuclear Fuel Fund will be providing £22.3 million to fuel eight projects, with Westinghouse Springfields nuclear fuel plant in Preston, Urenco UK in Capenhurst Chester, Nuclear Transport Solutions, and MoltexDLEX receiving funding.


The establishment of GBN and the grant funding package heralds a transformative phase for nuclear development in the UK, facilitating a rapid and substantial program to bolster the UK’s energy security, generate employment opportunities nationwide, and accelerate progress towards a net-zero future. The focus on SMR technology as well as nuclear power mega projects is expected to lead to the UK Government making major investments in both the public and private sectors, resulting in significant economic development.