Macron woos UK nuclear start-up to build first factory in France

President Emmanuel Macron addresses a net-zero nuclear event at COP28 in Dubai, December 2023 (Dean Calma/IAEA/CC BY 2.0 Deed)
London-based nuclear power start-up Newcleo is in talks with investors to raise up to €1bn to develop its generation IV small modular reactor powered by nuclear waste. 

It would use the money to build a plant to make fuel from waste in France, and further develop its lead-cooled fast reactor design.

The Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday that the company had dropped plans to build the plant in Cumbria and would instead invest £4bn in France after it was lobbied personally by Emmanuel Macron.

The company had hoped to reuse the UK’s vast stockpile of mixed plutonium–uranium oxides at Sellafield, where it had plans to invest £2bn in a reprocessing factory that would have created around 500 jobs.

Instead, Newcleo has started the permitting process with French authorities to build a pilot reactor and a plant to produce nuclear fuel by 2030. It may also build a 200MW reactor in the UK in 2032.

The company, which was founded by Italian physicist Stefano Buono, will also keep a presence in Italy, where it has its research and development department.

Newcleo last year won a €20m grant from Bpifrance, the country’s public sector investment bank. It can also benefit from tax credit incentives.

Buono, 57, commented in a press statement last year: “Between now and 2050, electricity demand is set to triple, driven by economic growth and electrification. This is a huge increase, and against a backdrop of necessary decarbonisation.

“At Newcleo, we are building a competitive standard in nuclear energy to meet this rising demand for electricity in a sustainable manner. Our technology can address decarbonisation of the energy systems and security of energy supply, two of the biggest challenges facing countries around the world.”

Further reading:

Story for GCR? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News