The first private nuclear power station is set to be built, with the aim to have them running by the early 2030s.
In a scheme previously championed by Boris Johnson, four so-called small modular reactors (SMRs) will be installed on the north bank of the River Tees.
The scheme is expected to generate 1.5 gigawatts of power – enough for up to two million homes.
The company behind the Teesside project, Community Nuclear Power, said it has reached an agreement with the US manufacturer Westinghouse to supply the reactors.
The former chemical plant in Seal Sands Road, Billingham
If all goes to plan, the scheme could be up and running before Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C, planned for the Suffolk coast.
Hinkley Point C is currently in construction and Sizewell is still in the planning process, both of which are backed by the state.
Boris Johnson once said he imagined “not quite everyone having their own small modular reactors in their gardens, but close to it.”
The new power station is set to be based at former chemical works Seal Sands.
A spokeswoman for Community Nuclear Power said: “We have a site and the reactors lined up, and we are not looking for government or taxpayer support. The scheme will be privately financed.”
Boris Johnson spoke out in favour of the plan
The Times reports that SMRs are far smaller than conventional nuclear reactors and so can be built in factories rather than being assembled on site – lowering costs and manufacturing time.
The government’s nuclear roadmap, launched last month, praised SMRs saying: “Unlike conventional nuclear reactors that are built on site, SMRs are smaller, can be made in factories, and could transform how power stations are built by making construction faster and less expensive.
“Alongside large gigawatt power stations, SMRs will play a key role in delivering on the expansion of UK nuclear capacity.”
However, mayor of Tees Valley Lord Houchen warned there was “a lack of clarity” surrounding the government’s own rules, saying: “A new nuclear power station would provide low-carbon energy for local industries, including being used to make hydrogen to fuel local chemical and other companies.”
Lord Houchen, Mayor of the Tees Valley
Lord Houchen said: “Teesside has been a typical example of post-industrial decay but new nuclear, combined with hydrogen manufacture, carbon capture and other new technologies will revive the whole area.”
A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesman told The Times: “We welcome Community Nuclear Power’s endeavours to support SMRs, which are vital to meet our ambition to reach up to 24GW nuclear power by 2050.
“Our nuclear revival will help to deliver cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy for families and businesses across the UK, and we recently launched a consultation to encourage further private investment in advanced nuclear projects.”