The government said the £30m will speed up the development of three SMR projects in the UK and “drive them closer towards supplying low-carbon energy to the nation”.
The remaining £10m will be invested in smaller research, design, and manufacturing projects.
The government said the funding will ensure SMR technology is more attractive to private sector investors, “supercharging” the development of the industry and creating supply chains for future SMR developments.
The successful SMR projects, awarded £10m funding each, are Tokamak Energy in Oxfordshire; Westinghouse in Lancashire and U-Battery in Cheshire.
Tokamak Energy is developing a compact spherical tokamak, called the ST40, the only project working on nuclear fusion. Westinghouse is developing a lead-cooled fast fission reactor and U-Battery is working on a small high-temperature gas-cooled fission reactor.
Tokamak Energy said the UK has an opportunity to be a world leader in commercially deployable fusion energy. The funds will contribute to core development work on high-temperature superconducting magnets and divertor technologies.
Westinghouse said it will use the funding to demonstrate lead-cooled fast reactor components and accelerate the development of high-temperature materials, advanced manufacturing technologies and modular construction strategies.
According to Westinghouse, its 450 MW-class Generation IV reactor has the potential to have “a transformative effect on the cost and market flexibility of new nuclear”.
U-Battery said it would use the funding to begin design and development work this year, contributing to the first-of-a-kind deployment of a U-Battery, expected to be completed by 2028.
The company said U-Battery is an advanced SMR capable of providing a low-carbon, cost-effective power and heat for energy intensive industry and remote locations. It is being developed by Urenco in partnership with Jacobs, Kinectrics and Laing O’Rourke.
On top of funding the SMR projects, the government will invest £10m in the advanced nuclear industry, £5m of which will go to British companies and startups developing new ways of manufacturing advanced nuclear parts for SMR projects.
The remaining £5m will be put to strengthening the UK’s nuclear regulatory regime, ensuring it is in a position to develop and deploy advanced nuclear technologies.
The government said recent research has shown that the UK’s entire nuclear industry could contribute £9.6bn a year to the economy and support 130,000 jobs by 2050, as well as creating significant export potential for SMR technology.
SMRs also provide the possibility to diversify the UK’s low-carbon energy mix by producing heat for industry and zero-carbon hydrogen.