Company actively seeking first nuclear sites in France and in the UK, and extending its strategy to manufacture fuel exclusively from existing nuclear waste
newcleo, the clean and safe nuclear technology company developing innovative Generation IV reactors, announces the successful close of its EUR300 million equity raise, launched at its first AGM in March this year.
The equity raise, which gathered interest in excess of the available amount, was completed in two months. Around two thirds of existing newcleo investors from the initial EUR100m funding round in 2021 chose to invest further, in a strong show of confidence.
The Board has been encouraged by the high levels of interest expressed by existing and potential investors since newcleo’s launch in September 2021. Anticipating the capital needs of the company is a principle of its sustainable financial approach, and a crucial enabler to move swiftly to deliver its capital intensive projects.
The funds raised will be instrumental to accelerate newcleo’s overall growth and its strategic expansion into manufacturing nuclear fuel for its new-generation reactors from existing waste produced by traditional reactors.
The company has recently opened its French subsidiary newcleo SA, expanding its international footprint. France is a strategically important market and newcleo’s presence there comes at a key moment, with the French government recently defining the country’s energy policy to extend the life of existing reactors and build new ones. newcleo SA’s immediate focus is to work towards the establishment of a Mixed Plutonium-Uranium Oxides (MOX) production plant, and newcleo is contracting Orano, a French-headquartered multinational nuclear fuel cycle company, for feasibility studies. Conversations with other major French nuclear fuel players are also well underway.
MOX, a nuclear fuel already approved for use in fast nuclear reactors in France, consists of depleted uranium (a by-product of the enrichment process of traditional reactors, for which there is no use but significant disposal costs), and plutonium. The use of MOX in newcleo’s reactors will be a further step towards their cost-competitive, fully sustainable approach: it will decrease the environmental and financial cost of disposing of such long-living radioactive waste; reduce proliferation risk; and completely avoid the need to mine for new nuclear fuel.
The industrial-scale manufacturing of MOX will secure the future fuel supply needed for the operation of newcleo’s first 30 MWe first-of-a-kind prototypes in France and the UK, and the subsequent fleet that will be deployed in both countries. Importantly, it will also be a consistent and complementary approach to both countries’ reinforced nuclear energy strategies as recently announced by their respective governments. newcleo will provide an efficient and safe way to sustainably manage their existing and new nuclear waste, and considerably reduce the footprint of final storage at a time when nuclear energy production plans are being bolstered.
To achieve all this, a significant programme of development activity is planned, which newcleo will execute rapidly over the next 5 to 7 years, and which requires significant investment. Given the strong interest from the market and the project’s aggressive timelines, this equity raise will help newcleo accelerate its prototype build out, research, manufacturing plant set up, and site identification and acquisition costs in both France and the UK.
In the last three months, newcleo has also continued its impressive growth trajectory in terms of recruitment, now well beyond 100 employees. In the UK, we are expanding our project management and technical functions and similarly in France, where we have several nuclear fuel experts with strong track records already on board at our Lyon office. In Italy, the scientific and support teams are also growing steadily in Turin. The overall headcount target is set at around 500 employees by the end of 2023.
Finally, in Italy, the ENEA partnership is progressing well towards the building of the non-nuclear reactor prototype for testing and licensing purposes. The joint research work is on track, and construction work is now underway for the laboratory halls refurbishment, and the experimental validation activity is due to start later this year as expected.
Stefano Buono, newcleo Chairman and CEO, commented:
“newcleo is moving fast to address the pressing need for clean and sustainable energy. The recent geopolitical developments have undeniably reinforced the importance of nuclear in ensuring global energy security and the necessary step change in decarbonisation efforts. The momentum is strong and the capital market’s appetite is evident. This is the right moment to change the paradigm of nuclear energy towards a new technology, that can efficiently address the major concerns of our industry – costs, safety and waste – in a sustainable way.
We look forward to pressing ahead with our clear priorities in the second half of 2022 and securing the right sites in France and the UK for both our prototype reactors and our MOX manufacturing facilities.
I warmly thank all our investors who have put their confidence in newcleo, as well as all of our employees and partners. This raise is the latest step to deliver our vision for the future of nuclear energy. newcleo’s Board, our leadership team and I are confident and engaged in delivery.”