Written Answer from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero


To ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, what assessment he has made of how long it will take to place contracts to build new smaller nuclear power stations. (160097)
Tabled on: 07 March 2023

Andrew Bowie:

The Government is committed to ensuring that the UK is one of the best places in the world to invest in new nuclear and intends to take one project to Final Investment Decision (FID) this Parliament and two projects to FID in the next Parliament, including Small Modular Reactors. As with any Government decision, this will be subject to value for money, relevant approvals, and technology readiness/maturity.

The Government also intends to initiate a selection process in 2023, with the intention to enter negotiations with the most credible projects to enable a potential Government award of support as soon as possible.

The answer was submitted on 15 Mar 2023 at 14:42.


Reply This represent a slow rate of progress. The government says it is committed to Small Modular reactors, so it should accelerate the timetable for their development, approval and roll out.


  1. Mark B
    March 21, 2023

    Good morning.

    As with any Government decision, this will be subject to value for money, relevant approvals, and technology readiness/maturity.

    Clearly when it came to considering wind turbines and solar panels this was conveniently forgotten, because there is no way, with all those subsidies they absorb, do either represent ‘value for money’ or are ready to supply large scale reliable energy.

    But hey, when there is money to be made from the taxpayer 😉

    1. Bloke
      March 21, 2023

      Subsidies distort value for money.

      1. turboterrier
        March 21, 2023

        They are just not in the box let alone thinking outside it. VFM? Wouldn’t recognise it if it hit them in the face with a wet kipper
        We the taxpayers pay the government that needs more money.
        All the charities get tax benefits. Part of that deal should be that they only buy British-made, assembled vehicles for example. The manufacturers get more orders and need a bigger workforce who will all pay taxes they make more profit and their tax bill rises. Is that not a win, win?
        There is no need for subsidies. Many of the off shore windfarm companies only show massive profits only because of the subsidies they receive. Sadly the same with all the other so called renewable options. Licenced to print money.

        1. Bloke
          March 21, 2023

          I agree turboterrier with your well-reasoned remarks. Many share such sensible views.

  2. turboterrier
    March 21, 2023

    Time is not on the side of the consumer whether they be domestic, commercial or industrial.
    The contracts for these SMRs should be in place now. It is not as if the government has not had enough time and warnings to have a real plan in place.
    All the time the green zealots keep pushing for wind and solar generation the energy policy of the country is not stable. Creeping up on us are the many of the existing installations are nearing end of life efficiency nobody has taken into account the decommissioning of windfarms and solar fields, the dismantling and safe disposal of all the components in manner that will not impact on the environment.

    1. Mark B
      March 21, 2023

      Funny how they can ALWAYS find the money for things ‘they’ want, but never for the things ‘we’ need.

    2. Ian wragg
      March 21, 2023

      What ate the odds that a foreign company is selected to build SMR s because they don’t want any manufacturing in the UK.
      Rolls Royce is by far the leader of the pack but will be bypassed by the climate idiots.

      1. Ian wragg
        March 21, 2023

        Then we have Goldsmith saying g sheep farming must be banned.

    3. graham1946
      March 21, 2023

      There have been warnings since the mid nineties. Blair/Brown did nothing, Cameron and successors did nothing and now the panic begins and we will expend far more money than ever trying to put it right. I loved the government reply about ‘value for money’ – hilarious. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing, just like the billions wasted on Covid where a few friends got very rich indeed and nothing has or will be done to chase down fraudsters. It’s only public money so no need to worry about it, the people will cough up more and more.

    4. Bloke
      March 21, 2023

      The critical path dictates what can happen by when.
      Taking simple key actions at their needed time enables what even extreme efforts later cannot achieve.

  3. walt
    March 21, 2023

    Too slow. We need SMRs to supplement existing energy requirements; and more to replace the capacity of our old large reactors that are in their final years.

    1. graham1946
      March 21, 2023

      The ‘relevant approvals’ will take donkeys years. Politicians have no idea about urgency, just about complications and holding enquiries so as to avoid taking decisions or to give them a get out of jail card for when it all goes wrong. Good job they don’t have anything to do with the supermarkets or we’d all starve waiting for them to do something.

      1. British Patriot
        March 21, 2023

        Everything this useless government does is so languorous it drives me to despair. Just to give you an idea how utterly comatose the government is, take the Freeports. This was one of their priorities when they were elected and was completely uncontroversial within the party. They could have rushed the legislation through parliament while *simultaneously* selecting the sites, and the whole thing could have been done within 3 months. Yes, months. Instead, here we are, over three YEARS later, and only YESTERDAY was the Thames freeport finally signed off! And that now makes just FIVE, of the original ten promised in the manifesto, up and running. Only HALF! Over THREE YEARS later! Madness. And just to show how indifferent and insanely out-of-touch the government is, the official press release actually stated: “The government’s Freeport programmes is moving at pace”. I kid you not! That’s what they actually said. Is it any wonder I view this government with complete contempt?

    2. Lifelogic
      March 21, 2023

      Even more so if we are really (idiotically) switching to electricity for heating, heat pumps, electric cars, industry (what is left of it)…as Gummer’s deluded Climate Change Committee advise. Non of which saves any sig. CO2. EVs increase CO2 output considerably compared to keeping your old car cost loads more too and cause more not less environmental dammage.

  4. Philip P.
    March 21, 2023

    SJR – Your government is reported by the BBC as saying: ‘Countries must “work towards far more ambitious climate commitments” ahead of the UN climate summit COP28 in November. “The UK is a world leader in working towards net zero, but we need to go further and faster,” a spokesperson said.’

    It really doesn’t matter how many questions you ask Conservative ministers, the direction of travel is clearly set for them. How does the British public get to express a real choice about our energy future, if at the next GE your party offers only the same climate alarmist mythology as Labour and the LibDems?

    1. Original Richard
      March 21, 2023

      Philip P. : “How does the British public get to express a real choice about our energy future, if at the next GE your party offers only the same climate alarmist mythology as Labour and the LibDems?”

      At the next GE do not vote for the Uniparty (Con/Lab/Lib/Green).

      Either find an independent with your views or, if none can be found, make sure you still go to the polling station and write across your ballot paper “None of these”.

      Spoilt ballot papers are recorded and if it were done in sufficiently large numbers Parliament would have to take notice.

      Not registering a vote at all is the worst possible option.

    2. Mickey Taking
      March 21, 2023

      I agree ‘countries should’ – any progress with China, India, USA, Russia, Indonesia …..?

  5. Cuibono
    March 21, 2023

    Great question!
    JR you are superb at teasing them.
    And how they bluster !

  6. Nigl
    March 21, 2023

    A woeful answer from frankly poor ministers and officials. Looking at industry feedback, they are getting more and more frustrated with the glacial pace and once again, the country suffers.

  7. Nigl
    March 21, 2023

    As we saw with the pathetic risk free budget the government has no vision for anything like a dynamic future. Spaffing money on child care is really going to turbo charge the economy, I don’t think.

    We are governed by meaningless cliches taking us for granted and stupid.

  8. Charles Breese
    March 21, 2023

    The key phrase is ‘value for money’, which in much public sector decision making seems to be based on price rather than value ie procurement departments generally seem incapable of evaluating the impact of a given course of action across the organisation/economy as a whole. The UK needs, for example, a UK business which is a world leader in small nuclear reactors – the decision making process needs to reflect this strategic objective.

  9. James Freeman
    March 21, 2023

    Aiming for two projects in the next parliament is pathetic, especially regarding SMRs. The whole point is once you have built the first, the rest follow off the production line. The others will not need special contracts or subsidies, so there are no worries about value for money or technology readiness/maturity.

    Most problems are directly related to the planning and government approvals process. If you speed this up, the market could build as many as are needed.

  10. Jude
    March 21, 2023

    Or in other words …..’not done very much yet’

  11. Berkshire Alan
    March 21, 2023

    So in 6 years they plan to progress just 3 small nuclear reactors, “subject to value for money” (whatever that means)
    Anyone would believe we did not have an urgent power generation requirement at that rate, what a farce.

  12. Sea_Warrior
    March 21, 2023

    It’s time for a question about the training of nuclear engineeers, Sir John.

  13. agricola
    March 21, 2023

    From what I have read elsewhere, progress on SMRs is in the long grass. I love the bit in the answer about value for money. You may as well ask your corner sweet shop to assess value for money. They would probably be better at it. Rather than conduct a sniping verbal exchange with a ministry that has presided over the total skrewup of our energy provision, and the milking of users as a result, get yourself north to Rolls Royce and find out what is really going on. The scribes from a base of technical ignorance and monetary profligacy will only tell you what they wish you to know , and that is diddly squat. Confer with the local MP out of courtesy, but go where real factual knowledge exists and then report to us the bill payers with the facts.

  14. Ian B
    March 21, 2023

    Sir John
    The US Company Last Energy is in the position to sell into the UK 24 of its small nuclear reactors with deployment by 2026 with ‘no’ taxpayer subsidies. All it needs from Government is UK regulatory approval for its designs.

    “value for money?” It is their own money and therefore 100% their own risk. All other Goverment delaying tactics put the UK economy and the UK Taxpayer at risk.

  15. William Long
    March 21, 2023

    All I can understand from the reply is that no substantive work has yet been done on this project.

  16. Peter Wood
    March 21, 2023

    Minister for energy…..yes you’ve guessed, it’s Grant Shapps. Minister required to make no progress on anything.

  17. The Prangwizard
    March 21, 2023

    This waffle answer means we are not going to get SMRs. We will fall behind our competitors on this as has happened is happening with everything else. Our competitors and rivals are being given control over us and preventing our progress. Your party has in recent decades happily having sold just about every strategic asset and thus we have no defences against competetive threats.

  18. fedupsoutherner
    March 21, 2023

    Has anyone seen the destruction that is going on in Northern Queensland in the name of the climate and saving the planet? Great swathes of their national forests are being decimated to make way for useless wind turbines. The biologists and naturalists are all disgusted and heartbroken to see the devastation being left in their wake. Mile after mile of roads are being cut through to make way for wind farms. The Koala left in a desolate wilderness. There was a similar scene in Scotland and it still going on. Natural habitat ruined in the name of saving the planet. I want to know what planet these people are on? Many of the wind farms are coming up for renewal so we can look forward to hundreds if not thousands of blades in land fill. Unless subsidies are offered again I wonder who will rebuild these monstrosities. I am fed up hearing about how our planet is either going to be turned into a desert, flooded to the point that we can hardly manage or burn us all to hell. This is the same message we were told 40 years ago when they said we only had 10 years to save the world. What twaddle. It’s not the climate thats destroying the world. It’s money grabbing hooligans who care nothing about our world but plenty about their own personal wealth.

  19. British Patriot
    March 21, 2023

    Everything this government does is just so pitifully SLOW. There is no sense of urgency at all, and never has been, even under Boris Johnson. Everything is subject to lengthy reviews and consultations. We are in an energy EMERGENCY and everything should be done as quickly as possible, instead of with this sense of complacency, lethargy and insouciance. The government should be tackling all Britain’s problems (not just those related to energy) with a sense of crisis and emergency, as they would do in wartime. That’s what I want to see. A Winston Churchill-style ‘Action This Day’ haste.

  20. Original Richard
    March 21, 2023

    By the 2035 decarbonisation date it is more than likely we will have ZERO nuclear capacity if EDF’s poorly performing EPR reactor at Hinkley Point C is not working by this date. The one in Finland is 13 years late, the one in France is not working and two in China are limping along with reduced power. All other nuclear power stations will have been closed down.

    But even if Hinkley Point C (2 x 1.6 GW) is working it will still only be providing 5% of our expected electrical demand by 2035 with all the additional requirements from evs and heat pumps.

    A recent NAO report said :
    “The lack of a delivery plan means DESNZ cannot be confident its ambition to decarbonise power by 2035 is achievable”

  21. Mark
    March 22, 2023

    SMRs are still too far away – they need to go through prototyping and appraisal, with no track record to convince the regulators. We need a fast track build of several stations using proven technology from Japan and/or Korea that can be constructed in 4-5 years, with an accelerated permitting process reflecting the proven technology as an underpinning and to replace the stations that are closing.

    As it is, we are now likely to have a major capacity crunch. I see the Norwegians have formally decided not to proceed with an interconnector to Scotland. The recent T-4 capacity auction only brought forth one new CCGT plant, some batteries that will run out of puff in 1-4 hours if they happen to be charged when called on, and very little else. Meanwhile, the changed costs for capital intensive renewables with no heavily subsidised interest rates and escalating build costs are putting some of the yet to be built wind farms in doubt, and the parameters for the next CFD auction have produced protest form the the wind industry that they are not investible. The nuclear stations remain at risk. Kathryn Porter at Watt-Logic wrote up the situation for them very knowledgeably here:


    She reminds us that we are exposed to the problems of France with its existing fleet of reactors in need of repair and replacement, jeopardising the interconnector position, and the ongoing disaster of EPR technology, including the latest delays to Hinkley Point. It really is time to stop pandering to Macron by offering to buy another EPR at Sizewell. Buy Japanese or Korean instead, and encourage the French to switch to that technology until SMRs are available. Try to expand the nuclear alliance internationally: several governments adopting a more sensible policy de-risks the industry, and increases the size of the market, resulting in lowered costs from learning curves and serial production, as the French managed 40 years ago.

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