UK-based Rolls-Royce’s design for a small modular reactor (SMR) should receive UK regulatory approval by mid-2024 and be able to produce grid power by 2029, Paul Stein, chairman of Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactors, told Reuters on 19 April.

The UK government has asked the nuclear regulator to start the approval process in March. The government backed Rolls-Royce's $546 million funding round in November to develop the UK’s first SMR reactor.

Speaking to Reuters in an on-line interview, Stein said the regulatory process had begun and would likely be complete in the middle of 2024. "We are trying to work with the UK Government, and others to get going now placing orders, so we can get power on grid by 2029."

Rolls-Royce will meanwhile begin manufacturing those parts of the design that are most unlikely to change, Stein added. Each 470MWe SMR unit costs GBP1.8 billion ($2.34bn) and would be built on a 10-acre site. The government earlier this month put nuclear power at the centre of its energy strategy in response to climate concerns and a desire to exclude Russian gas.