24 Dec 2019
Seasons Greetings from all at Moltex Energy
2019 was a very successful year for Moltex Energy. We closed our round C funding at £6m, well over target thanks to a brilliant crowd-funding campaign. This secures our immediate future and has brought us a large number of new shareholders, all of whom are very welcome. Many thanks for your investments and your support.  It seems a long time ago now, but you will remember that the funding included a substantial investment from IDOM, the global engineering consultancy, and also that it unlocked the C$5m (£3m) grant from New Brunswick Power. We have received other funding too this year, from the Department of Energy in the US and from Canadian Nuclear Labs, all of which is helping to keep our development plans absolutely on track. 

The one funding contribution which we had hoped for and which didn’t materialise was from the UK government’s Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) programme. The turmoil of the minority government and then a general election meant that the programme shortlist was not announced when expected. We have high hopes for the early part of 2020. 

We have been able to cross a number of crucial technical matters off our risk list, including some very positive results from corrosion research where an independent third party has experimentally validated our corrosion controls. Stage 1 of the Vendor Design Review (VDR) process is almost complete in Canada and we expect the final report from CNSC in September 2020.  The VDR process and deep engagement with our intended operator, New Brunswick Power, have thrown up possibilities for a very positive evolution of our SSR-W design. Details are not being made public yet but we believe we have found ways to further reduce our already low capital cost, simplify the fuel handling process and eliminate some aspects of the design that looked likely to be expensive to validate to the standard required by the regulator.  

The project to demonstrate our fuel conversion process, taking CANDU waste and recycling it into fuel for the SSR-W, has started in Canada with strong support from the University of New Brunswick and Canadian Nuclear Labs. As the owner of large amounts of CANDU waste, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is taking a close interest too. 

We have bolstered the senior team in 2019, with the arrival of Kun Chen as Head of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and Simon Newton as Business Development Director. We also have a Head of Engineering for North America starting in the new year. You may have seen that we are currently looking for a senior manager to build and run a technical team here in the UK. We will be opening an office in Warrington in the New Year and staffing it with a team of scientists who will be working on the further development of the Wasteburner design as well as the early stages of the Uranium design. Two of this technical team are already in place with recruits in the molten salt electrochemistry and thermal hydraulics areas. We are also looking for a permanent Chief Financial Officer and hope to be able to make an appointment in the next two or three months. 

Taking a broader view of 2019, two factors have become very clear. One is that climate change has assumed a much broader significance in the public imagination, which in turn means that politicians are finally starting to take it more seriously. We don’t think that anyone is yet behaving as though this were an actual “emergency”, but nonetheless the signs are positive that government action will be taken in most western democracies at least. We still have a significant task to position nuclear power as part of the clean energy solution. Anyone who knows the subject knows that low-cost nuclear power is crucial to achieving net zero in any country. The challenge is to educate everyone else. 

And that leads us to the second factor, which is the importance of meaningful government investment in these technologies. A good deal of government money will be chasing batteries, carbon capture and fusion in the coming years; we need to make sure that fourth generation nuclear (advanced reactors) is also on that list. Canada, the UK and the US are our immediate targets and we intend that the next two to three years will be characterised by a large step up in the scale of government funding that we are able to unlock. Both Canada and the UK have new governments in place and present the prospect of relative stability as well as having broad, cross-party support for nuclear. We will be looking for opportunities for the two countries to collaborate at a political level as well as in R&D and licensing.  

We very much welcome the contributions to our mission from supporters around the world, and not just financial contributions. Your ideas and your contacts are also of enormous interest to us and we are grateful for all of the input that we continue to receive. Please keep it coming. 

Here’s wishing you a peaceful and relaxing break and a happy, prosperous and above all, low-carbon new year.