It has said developing SMRs for civil use will cost £1.2bn, with the first installation expected to require a further £1.7bn. Costs are forecast to fall as more mini reactors are built. Modular design allows the systems to be built in “blocks” in factories then assembled on-site. An SMR is expected to require a site about a tenth of the size of a conventional nuclear power station and generate between 200 megawatts and 450 megawatts of power.
Hinkley Point C, currently under construction in Somerset, is set to generate 3.2 gigawatts. Cost projections on the project have soared from £6bn in 2013 to £20bn, and the first new power is not expected to be generated until at least 2025.
Last month, the National Audit Office (NAO) hit out at Hinkley Point, saying taxpayers could face a final bill of as much as £50bn, because the wholesale market price for electricity is falling steadily while nuclear power construction remains expensive and high-risk.
Under a 2013 deal between the Government and EDF, Hinkley is guaranteed to earn £92.50 for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy produced through a combination of wholesale market prices and a levy on consumer energy bills. At the time, the Government said this would require top-up payments totalling £6bn from consumers’ energy bills to meet the “strike price”, but falling market prices have widened the forecast gap every year since then.