Rolls-Royce’s plans for mini-nuclear power plants have taken an important step forward

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Rolls-Royce’s hopes of building mini-nuclear power plants have taken an important step forward after Kwasi Kwarteng, business secretary, asked government regulators to evaluate its plans.

Rolls Royce raised about £ 500 million develop reactors for small modular reactors (SMRs) that could help reduce Britain’s dependence on electricity produced from fossil fuels.

It gained investment from Qatar; the billionaire French oil dynasty, the Perrodo family, enriched by private oil company Perenco, and the American nuclear giant Exelon Generation. It also received £ 210 million in taxpayer funding to develop the project.

Rolls wants to develop a reactor that can be mostly made in a factory. Manufacturing hundreds of them would significantly reduce development costs and make them more flexible and affordable.

Conventional nuclear power plants are often custom-made to comply with local laws and regulations and are built on site. This has often led to rising costs, making them more difficult to finance privately or less affordable.

The Rolls concept will now enter the overall plan evaluation process at the Office of Nuclear Regulation, the Environment Agency and Wales for Natural Resources.

Tom Samson, CEO of Rolls-Royce SMR, said entering this process is another important milestone in his goal of deploying a fleet of small nuclear reactors that can produce affordable, low-carbon electricity.

“The UK regulatory process is internationally recognized and respected. We welcome the review and the challenges related to the assessment of the plan of our nuclear power plant, “he said.

Rolls will need many hundreds of millions more pounds to complete the research, testing and planning of the proposed power plants.

It wants to start producing power plants in the early 1930s and charge around £ 1.8 billion for 470 megawatt units, which will generate enough to power a city the size of Sheffield.

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

Due to their smaller size, they are also useful in parts of old nuclear sites across the UK that already have access to the electricity grid and the transport of fuel and waste.

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

This is also a significant development for the British nuclear industry, which has suffered cost overruns for Hinkley Point C. The bill for the project has increased by around £ 5 billion over the last five years.

The trade body of the Nuclear Industry Association said: “This is an important step forward for British nuclear technology. The UK needs a Rolls-Royce SMR to boost our energy security and reduce our dependence on gas as we move towards net zero.

“SMR can also play a key role in strengthening Britain’s industrial capacity, creating tens of thousands of jobs, revitalizing the nuclear knowledge base and promoting a green economic recovery.”

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