Rolls-Royce’s plans for mini nuclear power plants take a big step forward Business

Rolls-Royce’s hopes of building mini nuclear power stations have taken a significant step forward after Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, asked government regulators to assess its designs.

Rolls-Royce has raised around £500million to develop Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which could help reduce Britain’s dependence on electricity generated from fossil fuels.

It has won investments from Qatar; the billionaire French oil dynasty the Perrodo family, which made its fortune from the private oil company Perenco, and the American nuclear giant Exelon Generation. He also received £210 million in taxpayer funding to develop the project.

Rolls aims to develop a reactor that can largely be manufactured in the factory. Making hundreds of them would significantly reduce development costs while making them more flexible and affordable.

Conventional nuclear power plants are often custom designed to meet local laws and regulations and are manufactured on site. This has often led to spiraling costs which, in turn, make them harder to finance by the private sector or for less wealthy countries.

The Rolls design will now enter the Generic Design Assessment process with the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.

Tom Samson, chief executive of Rolls-Royce SMR, said entering the process was another important step towards its goal of deploying a fleet of small nuclear reactors capable of producing affordable, low-carbon electricity. .

“The UK regulatory process is internationally recognized and respected. We welcome the careful consideration and the challenge of evaluating the design of our nuclear power plant,” he said.

Rolls will need several hundred million additional pounds to complete the research, testing and design of its proposed power stations.

He wants to start producing the plants in the early 2030s and charge around £1.8billion for the 470 megawatt units, which will generate enough to power a city the size of Sheffield.

Although only one-seventh the size of the future Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, its price is one-twelfth the cost of this project.

The small size also makes them suitable for use on parts of former nuclear sites in Britain that already have access to the electricity grid and transport for fuel and waste.

Mr. Kwarteng said: “This is an important step in the creation of SMRs. We are proud to support Rolls’ plan with an initial £210m to develop their design.

It is also a vital development for the UK nuclear industry, which has suffered cost overruns for Hinkley Point C. The bill for the project has risen by around £5billion over the past five years.

The nuclear industry trade association said: “This is a vital step forward for UK nuclear technology. The UK needs Rolls-Royce SMR to boost our energy security and reduce our dependence on gas as we move towards net zero.

“The SMR can also play a vital role in boosting UK industrial capacity, creating tens of thousands of jobs, revitalizing the nuclear skills base and driving the green economic recovery.”

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This notice was published: 2022-03-07 18:57:12

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