Major SMR Funding Opportunities Open Up in the US and UK

  • U.S. Department of Energy releases $30 million funding opportunity for advanced nuclear technologies including SMRs using LWR and fast reactor designs
  • U.K. releases £100m for SMRs in a drive to make that nation a leader in this technology

small reactors

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry this week released a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to support development of advanced nuclear energy technology.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is soliciting proposals for cost-shared projects to develop innovative, industry-driven reactor designs and accompanying technologies with high potential to advance nuclear power in the United States.

“Targeted early-stage investment in advanced nuclear technology will support a strong domestic industry now and into the future,” said Secretary Perry.

“This funding opportunity is an important step to ensure our nation continues to benefit from this clean, resilient source of electricity.”


Conceptual image of  Holtec 160 MW SMR via firm’s website

DOE expects to make up to $30 million or more available in FY 2018 awards, subject to the availability of funding. The FOA will be open for a five-year period accepting applications on a year-round basis, with a quarterly selection process. Additional funding will be available in future years, as allocated by Congress.

Through this competition, DOE encourages U.S. companies to partner with other U.S. federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities to share expertise needed to successfully develop these innovative technologies.


Conceptual image of a high temperature gas cooled reactor – Image: World Nuclear Association

Key Points of Contact

Pathways to DOE Funding

Here’s a summary of the opportunity announcement in terms of focus areas and funding levels.

Pathway 1: First of a Kind Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Projects

Addresses major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risks. Support will be provided for one or more advanced reactor projects that have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.

Federal Cost Share: $10 million-$40 million
Project Duration: 3 years
Number of anticipated projects:1 – 2
Cost Share Required: 20%-50% depending on technology readiness
Collaborations are allowed with U.S. national laboratory, academic, and for-profit institutions.

Pathway 2: Advanced Reactor Development Projects

Leads to advancements in the innovation and competitiveness of a broad set of domestic nuclear reactor designs and technologies. The Government will support applications involving concepts and ideas that they believe are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.

Federal Cost Share: $0.5 -$10 million
Project Duration: 2 years
Number of anticipated projects: 3-6 per fiscal year
Cost Share Required: 20%-50% depending on technology readiness
Collaborations are allowed with U.S. national laboratory, academic, and for-profit institutions.

Pathway 3: Regulatory Assistance Grants

Supports industry efforts to work with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resolve design regulatory issues, to review topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals. Support for salaries, travel, or other costs under this application pathway are not allowed.

Federal Cost Share: $50,000-$500,000
Project Duration: 1 year
Number of anticipated projects: 10-20 per fiscal year
Cost Share Required: 20%-50% depending on technology readiness
No Collaborations allowed.

Britain Kicks Off Funding for SMR Development

The British government will provide up to 56 million pounds ($75 million) of funding for research and development for small nuclear reactors. The funding level is the first part of a 250 million pounds promised to support the industry in the government’s long delayed SMR competition.

The government is determined to make the UK a leader in SMR technology and to search for less costly solutions to providing nuclear energy for electricity generation and process heat applications.

The UK level of funding vastly exceeds the U.S. commitment in this area. U.S. firms NuScale and Westinghouse have offices in the UK as part of their efforts to secure a share of these markets as they develop.


Conceptual image of an SMR plant. Image: Rolls Royce from the firm’s website

The funding will be available over the next three years and will be used to assess the potential of designs of advanced and small modular reactors (SMRs) and accelerating their development.

Although SMRs initially have a higher cost, that should go down over time as experience drives down the capital cost of production, the report said.

“Nuclear is a vital part of our energy mix, providing low carbon power now and into the future so today’s package of new measures will help to boost innovation and provide greater clarity on our future plans,” British energy minister Richard Harrington said.

WNN reported that the government will also be supporting “early access” to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and license small reactor designs and will establish an expert finance group to advise how small reactor projects could raise private investment in the UK.

Stage 1 comprises up to GBP4 million for feasibility studies and up to GBP7 million to further develop the capability of nuclear regulators who support and assess advanced nuclear technologies.

Subject to Stage 1 demonstrating clear value for money through a formal re-approval process with the Treasury, up to GBP40 million will be available for advanced modular reactor R&D projects and up to a further GBP5 million for regulators.

In addition, the government plans to launch soon the second phase of its Nuclear Innovation Program, including up to GBP8 million for work on modern safety and security methodologies and studies in advanced fuels.


Separately the UK is announcing a tender for GBP4 million in funding to develop feasibility projects for nuclear advanced modular reactors, the government said that up to GBP40 million of further funding may be available for development, subject to government approval.

Applicants to lead such a project needs a “viable route to market”, it said, and can be an organization of any size or type, and work with others as sub-contractors. This is a Small Business Research Initiative and projects will receive 100% of their eligible costs.

The final date for registration is February, 2018, and applications must be submitted by February 14, 2018. A decision will be made to applicants on March 30, 2018, with contracts to be awarded in May.


In March 2015, government commissioned an independent Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in order to contribute to the evidence base and help inform policy decisions.

There are a total of 7 projects that make up the TEA:

Project 1: Comprehensive analysis and assessment of SMRs. Led by Atkins
Project 2: Systems optimization modeling for SMRs. Led by the Energy Technologies Institute
Project 3: Assessment of emerging SMR technologies. Led by the National Nuclear Laboratory
Project 4: Assessment of UK regulatory regime for SMRs. Led by Checkendon Hill
Projects 5-7: SMR Cost reduction study. Led by EY
Project 5 – Advanced manufacturing
Project 6 – Advanced assembly, modularisation and construction
Project 7 – Control, operation and electric systems

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