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UK

In the UK, some industries require high temperature process heat for their operations and currently operate by either using electricity from the grid and converting it to heat, or by burning fossil fuel. In 2018, the UK industrial sector consumed approximately 14% of all energy used and 73% of the coal.

U-Battery has conducted an analysis of the potential market size for heavy and energy intensive industrial sites that are seeking to decarbonise. Six industries were found to be technically suitable for deploying a U-Battery, and there was a high level of interest amongst energy managers for these industries, with a market size of potentially 200 sites.

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Recent progress

In December 2017, the UK Government reassessed the direction of its small modular reactor (SMR) competition and developed a new framework for the advanced modular reactor (AMR) programme, part of the Energy Innovation Portfolio.

Under the revised AMR programme, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committed to investing up to £44 million into a feasibility and development project, which would help take AMR designs closer to commercialisation.

AMRs are categorised within a broad group of advanced nuclear reactors, distinct from conventional reactors, which use pressurised or boiling water for primary cooling.

By design, AMRs can:

  • Maximise the use of modular manufacturing and off-site factory fabrication;
  • Generate low cost electricity;
  • Increase flexibility in delivering electricity to the grid;
  • Increase functionality, such as the provision of heat output for domestic or industrial purposes, or facilitating the production of hydrogen;
  • Be capable of delivering alternative applications that may generate additional revenue or economic growth.

The AMR programme has two phases:

  • Phase 1 – funding (up to £4 million in available total funding) to undertake a series of feasibility studies for AMR designs. Contracts are worth up to £300,000.
  • Phase 2 – subject to phase 1 demonstrating clear value for money and government approval, a share of up to £40 million could be available for selected projects from phase 1 to undertake development activities. A further sum of up to £5 million may be made available to regulators to support the delivery of these projects.

In the second half of 2018, U-Battery was one of eight vendors selected to participate in phase 1 of the AMR programme. U-Battery developed a feasibility study, which made the technical and commercial case for its design. This study was submitted to the UK government on schedule in December 2018 and January 2019.

In July 2020 it was announced that U-Battery had progressed through to Phase 2 of the AMR programme and had been awarded almost £10m to conduct design and development work, the next step in bringing the new nuclear technology to market. U-Battery received additional funding from BEIS to design and build mock-ups of the two main vessels for the reactor and the connecting duct. The investment was awarded under the ‘Call for Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Phase 2B’.