A Bill Gates supported-nuclear power player is concerned it may miss out on government approval to build projects in the UK with questions over its fuel source.
Terrapower, one of the contenders in the race to build small modular reactors in the UK confirmed its intention earlier this year to enter the competition to build scaled-down power plants in the UK – in a bidding war with a hefty £20bn cap.
However, there is a row brewing between Terrapower and the government over its use of a uranium fuel source which is chiefly sourced from Russia, according to The Sunday Times.
Terrapower’s pitch for small modular reactors (SMRs) is based on bespoke ‘Natrium’ reactors, powered by high-assay low-enriched uranium.
These are considered advanced modular reactors, in contrast to Rolls-Royce’s scaled-down light water reactors, based on existing technology, which have already won £210m in funding from the government.
Whitehall officials are concerned there are insufficient supplies to import at scale to meet demand for Terrapower reactors, as most of the uranium it needs is produced in Russia – which is under sanctions following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The company now fears exclusion from the race to build the next generation of reactors, with the group in also in competition with GE-Hitachi, and Newcleo for projects in an increasingly crowded field.
Terrapower was founded in 2006 by Gates, the co-creator of Microsoft and the world’s fifth richest man.
Gates led a £588.3m funding round for the nuclear project last year and remains its biggest investor.
He is currently chairman of the company, and is set to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak next month to discuss climate change, but he will not be acting on behalf of Terrapower.
When approached for comment, a government spokesperson said: “We are determined to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to invest in low-carbon technology, including nuclear.
“Great British Nuclear is assessing the bids received as part of the latest phase of the competition launched earlier this year and will announce an update in due course.”