UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) confirmed it had provided initial match funding to a consortium of companies designing a small modular reactor for the UK.
Rolls-Royce leads the consortium, the other members of which are partners in the consortium are Assystem, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Atkins, Wood, The Welding Institute (TWI) and Nuclear AMRC. The initial joint investment of £18 million ($23m) from UKRI will be matched by the consortium, which has been working on the preliminary design for four years.
The Rolls-Royce SMR power station is a compact design, the components for which are manufactured in sections in regional UK factories, before being transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy. This cuts costs by avoiding weather disruptions and secures gradual efficiency savings by using streamlined and standardised manufacturing processes for its components.
Rolls Royce noted that, by 2050, a full UK programme of up to 16 of these power stations could create up to 40,000 jobs, £52bn of value to the UK economy, and £250bn of exports. Rolls-Royce Chief Technology Officer Paul Stein said: “Tackling climate change requires collaboration across industries and governments to find effective, affordable and sustainable ways of achieving net zero by 2050. The consortium’s work with the Government shows that action is being taken to decarbonise our economy and meet our society’s vital and growing power needs. This is a very positive step forward to this next phase of the programme.”
The target cost for each station is £1.8 billion by the time five have been built, with further savings possible. Each power station will be able to operate for 60 years and provide 440MW of electricity.
The shared initial investment will be used to progress the significant opportunities presented by the programme; prepare it for the UK’s regulatory Generic Design Assessment process; and make final decisions on which innovations to pursue and realise. It will also generate the confidence that the supply chain needs to begin to prepare for a programme that could create value for the UK economy. Roll Royce said that, when licensed and supported by the required enabling legislation and siting processes, the power station could provide reliable low carbon energy from the early 2030s.
Photo: The Rolls-Royce SMR (Credit: Rolls-Royce)