French Energy Giant EDF Backs Out of Bid Race to Build UK’s Mini-Nuke Reactors

By Jose Resurreccion

Jul 09, 2024 06:14 AM EDT

French Energy Giant EDF Backs Out of Bid Race to Build UK’s Mini-Nuke Reactors
A logo of EDF is displayed during the 8th edition of the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair, at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, on May 23, 2024.
(Photo : MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

EDF, France's state energy company, has appeared to withdraw from the bidding race to build mini-nuclear reactors in the United Kingdom, narrowing the competing companies to five. 

It is understood that the firm failed to put forward a design for the small modular reactor (SMR) project, which was due Monday afternoon (July 8). This meant that EDF withdrew from the bidding by default.

EDF said its exit meant it would "evolve the design" to ensure maximum technical feasibility. 

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph, on the condition of anonymity, that EDF's decision to drop out of the competition was not due to any feedback from the Great British Nuclear (GBN) but from an internal decision to rethink its technology.

An EDF representative said that the company was still "committed" to supporting the development of nuclear energy in Britain. 

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Race to Build UK's Mini-Reactors

Rolls-Royce, GE Hitachi, Westinghouse, Holtec Britain, and Nuscale Power are competitors vying for British government support. 

It is understood that the GBN, the government agency handling the competition, would further whittle down the list until it picks two winners who would be awarded contracts to build the first demonstrator SMRs in the UK. 

The winners will be announced by the end of this year, and the winners will be awarded the contracts by 2025.

Due to their modular designs, mini-reactors promise to be more affordable and quicker to build than large nuclear power stations. 

The Labour Party publicly supported the building of SMRs but has yet to determine if they would follow through with the same timescales set out by the previous Conservative government after Labour won a landslide victory in last week's general election, which propelled Sir Keir Starmer into Downing Street. 

As part of its election promises, Labor has promised to make Britain's power grid produce net zero carbon emissions by 2030. 

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