The distinction between energy and electricity is diminishing, said the Nuclear Industry Association at a Conservative party conference fringe event. Citing transport and heating as a primary example, the NIA said electrification of our world is only going to continue But how best to meet this ever-increasing demand? “I have yet to see a 100% renewable energy plan that is credible,” stated the Chair Matthew Rooney. The panel that convened yesterday at the Conservative Party fringe event discussed the future of nuclear energy. “It is fair to say large nuclear reactors are not doing very well in the nuclear world”, said the chair, pointing to Hinkley Point as a prime example. “It is very difficult in liberalized economies to fund large nuclear reactor projects these days and that is where small modular reactors could come in.” Small modular reactors (SMRs) offer the potential to provide scalable and reliable low carbon power and heat. Rooney explained that the problem with large nuclear reactors is that like with all large infrastructure projects, they tend to go over budget, which is partly attributable to the fact that they build everything on site. “When it comes to SMRs, it is the modular that is important rather than the small,” said Rooney. The advantage is that you build it in a factory you standardize the process, you replicate the design, which brings down cost over time. This is why Rolls-Royce is investing in this technology, said David Orr, Director of Future Programmes and Technologies at Rolls Royce Nuclear. The company is forecasting to have three factories in the UK, one for the primary vessels, one for mechanical electrical modules, one for civil engineering and civil construction markets. “There are enough nuclear licence sites in the UK to be able to be able to deploy a fleet to give return on investment without having to go onto new sites. There is certainly enough public acceptance near these sites as well,” said David Orr.
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