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Uganda’s Madhvani Family & GE Partner To Build UK Mini-Nuclear Reactor



The Madhvani family plan to roll out General Electric-Hitachi mini-nuclear reactors in the UK

An Indian family dynasty nicknamed “the Rockefellers of Uganda” have joined forces with General Electric (GE) to propose a series of mini-nuclear reactors in Britain.

The Madhvanis, who trace their history in Uganda back to the 19th century, head a conglomerate spanning sugar farming, steel production, construction, hotels and insurance.

They gained their nickname after becoming one of the most powerful families in Africa, with business interests across the continent.

Madhvani International, the family’s investment company, is now seeking to build a fleet of nuclear small modular reactors (SMRs) in the UK, using technology developed by GE-Hitachi.

Their scheme, known as “Project Quasar”, will aim to demonstrate to other countries “the immense potential” of SMR technology, which Madhvani International then hopes to develop worldwide.

The Madhvanis are proposing to use GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300 SMRs at their power plants, although sites have not yet been chosen.

Each reactor would be capable of generating up to about 300 megawatts of power and the company wants to deploy its first before the end of this decade.

Mayur Madhvani is the joint managing director of the sprawling conglomerate Madhvani Group

Madhvani International has said it will aim to develop around one gigawatt of capacity in total, suggesting it will build up to four reactors.

Adrian Simper, the Government’s former chief nuclear adviser, who is now working with the Madhvanis, said the UK had been chosen by the company because it was seen as “a gold standard for a nuclear deployment”.

He said: “First, the UK is an open market in terms of technology in a way that France, for example, isn’t.

“The second factor is we have a regulatory system that is very highly regarded internationally, so if you can deploy a reactor here you can have confidence you can deploy it anywhere in the world.”

The total size of the proposed investment has not been confirmed yet but Mr Simper added it was certain to be in the “billions of pounds” range.

However, the ability of the company to deploy its power plants quickly will depend on securing regulatory approval, something no company has done with an SMR design to date.

Great British Nuclear (GBN) – a government agency – is running an SMR design competition that will select designs to support with public funding before providing the winners with sites and contracts to build the first reactors.

The outcome of that competition, which GE-Hitachi has been shortlisted in, is expected to be announced before the end of the year.

It has already been delayed multiple times, prompting the boss of Rolls-Royce to warn earlier this year that the change of government in the UK should not be allowed to cause further hold-ups.

The new Labour administration has said it is supportive of SMRs but has not yet confirmed whether it intends to continue with the GBN competition on the same timescales.

Mr Simper urged Sir Keir Starmer’s new Government to give businesses as much clarity as possible on the regulatory process.

The Telegraph

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