Teesside to open Britain’s first private nuclear power station.

Britain’s first private nuclear power station

Using tiny reactors that Boris Johnson had previously supported, Teesside will see the construction of Britain’s first “private” nuclear power station.

As part of the plan, four so-called small modular reactors (SMRs) with a combined power output of 1.5 gigawatts, or enough to power up to two million households, will be built on the north bank of the River Tees. In British history, this is the first time the taxpayer is not participating.

    Britain’s first private nuclear power stationBritain’s first private nuclear power station

The aim is to have them running by the early 2030s, meaning the power station could be in operation ahead of Hinkley Point C – now under construction in Somerset – and well before Sizewell C, planned for the Suffolk coast. Both are backed by the state.

Community Nuclear Power, the company behind the Teesside project, said it has reached an agreement with the US manufacturer Westinghouse to supply the reactors.

Mini reactors, which are also being built by companies including Rolls-Royce, were championed by Mr Johnson as a way of generating cheap, clean power at scale.

The then Prime Minister once said he imagined “not quite everyone having their own small modular reactors in their gardens, but close to it”.

Teesside local authorities are backing the company’s plan to site the new power station at Seal Sands, formerly a chemical works, and adjacent to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ renowned Saltholme bird reserve.

A spokeswoman for Community Nuclear Power said a formal announcement was imminent.

He said: “We have a site and the reactors lined up, and we are not looking for government or taxpayer support. The scheme will be privately financed.”

SMRs are far smaller than conventional nuclear reactors and so can be built in factories rather than being assembled on site – lowering costs and manufacturing time.

The government’s nuclear roadmap, launched last month, talked up the prospects for SMRs, saying: “Unlike conventional nuclear reactors that are built on site, SMRs are smaller, can be made in factories, and could transform how power stations are built by making construction faster and less expensive.

“Alongside large gigawatt power stations, SMRs will play a key role in delivering on the expansion of UK nuclear capacity.”

The mayor of Tees Valley, Lord Houchen, cautioned that there was “a lack of clarity” regarding the UK’s design and inspection procedures for new reactors, stating that the government’s own regulations pertaining to new nuclear power were the main barrier.

He went on, “Low-carbon energy from a new nuclear power plant would support local industries, such as local chemical companies by producing hydrogen.”

Additionally, it could supply the £650 million wind turbine tower manufacturing factory that SeAH is now building in Teesside.

Teesside has been a classic example of post-industrial collapse, but new nuclear, along with hydrogen production, carbon capture, and other new technologies, will revitalize the entire area, according to Lord Houchen.

“We welcome Community Nuclear Power’s endeavours to support SMRs, which are vital to meet our ambition to reach up to 24GW nuclear power by 2050,” a representative for the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero stated.

“We recently launched a consultation to encourage further private investment in advanced nuclear projects. Our nuclear revival will help deliver cheaper, cleaner, and more secure energy for families and businesses across the UK.”

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