French state energy company EDF has pulled its application for the construction of SMRs in the UK.

The company will no longer consider building its Nuward SMR model in the UK due to the “incompatibility between the level of commitment and the time schedule required by Great British Nuclear (GBN) and the level of maturity of the Nuward SMR”, an EDF spokesperson said.

Last year, the UK Government launched GBN to support new nuclear builds including the development of SMRs. These smaller and transportable reactors have a capacity of up to 300MW(e) per unit and are a cornerstone of the GBN project.

In October, EDF, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Holtec, Nuscale Power, Rolls-Royce SMR and Westinghouse were invited to bid for UK Government contracts to construct SMRs in the country.

Last month, the deadline for submitting bids was extended by two weeks, from 24 June to 8 July, landing days after Labour’s general election victory. The deadline was delayed at the request of a bidder, rather than for political reasons.

EDF’s decision to pull out from the UK nuclear race comes a week after it announced it was changing the way its Nuward reactors will be built. Instead of using new technologies, EDF will now incorporate existing machinations into the SMR design. A spokesperson from Nuward told Reuters that this decision was motivated by conversations with potential buyers such as Vattenfall, CEZ and Fortum.

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EDF did not specify how the change will affect production timelines.

Other bidders remain keen to build SMRs in the UK. Andy Champ, GEH UK country leader, said: “We have entered this competition with a proven track record of progressing SMR reactor technology internationally, a fuel that is already licensed and in operation, and a reactor designed for manufacture.

“Our BWRX-300 has evolved from proven, simple, boiling water reactor technology and is not just smaller but through innovation even further simplified. We believe this uniquely positions us to reliably deliver an SMR with the most value for money and along with our strategic investment partners, be a valuable partner to the UK Government as it strives to reach its net-zero target by 2050,” he added.

After submitting its tender response to GBN, Rolls-Royce SMR said in a post on LinkedIn,: “This is an extremely exciting time for Rolls-Royce SMR which stands ready to move rapidly to the next phase. Selection by GBN before the end of the year will unlock supply chain investment, job creation and enormous opportunities to export this unique product to countries around the world that are seeking to strengthen their energy security with a long-term, low-carbon solution.”