(Bloomberg) -- The UK selected six companies, including Electricite de France SA, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy International LLC and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, to advance to the next round in a government competition to develop smaller nuclear reactors that are expected to be quicker to build. 

The firms will be invited to bid for contracts later in the year, with the winners announced early next year, the government said in a statement on Monday. The three other finalists are Holtec Britain Ltd., NuScale Power and Westinghouse Electric Company UK Ltd.

The UK has set a target of building 24 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2050, a huge ambition that has been met with skepticism. EDF is already building Hinkley Point C, the country’s first new atomic power station in more than three decades, but that project is running over budget and is facing a 15-month delay after construction setbacks. 

British aircraft enginemaker Rolls-Royce has made a move into the so-called Small Modular Reactor technology and has been vocal in its calls for further government support, after receiving £210 million ($260 million) in funding to develop its reactors. 

“Securing a domestic contract is vitally important to unlock the enormous global export potential of our clean energy technology,” said Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce SMR’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

The SMRs have a smaller capacity, can be made in factories, and could transform how power stations are built by making construction faster and less expensive.

(Updates with comment from Rolls-Royce in fifth paragraph.)

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