High inflation and rising interest rates are driving up the cost of a new generation of miniature atomic reactors that the nuclear industry is relying on to lift sales and help meet climate targets.

Nuclear-company executives and regulators met this week at the International Atomic Energy Agency to negotiate potential manufacturing and technology standards, a key step the industry needs to take in order to make prices competitive with other emissions-free energy sources. There are currently more than 80 unique small modular reactor, or SMR, designs under development, resulting in sprawling supply chains and caps on scaling up production.

"With higher interest rates to deal with and inflation pushing up the cost of steel, copper wire and just about everything else that goes into building an SMR, we know that even the most promising projects are having to tell their investors and buyers that prices have risen substantially,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said at the meeting in Vienna. "Avoiding, or at least mitigating, cost rises and delays is now even more crucial.”