Rolls-Royce lines up funding for mini nuclear reactor revolution. Private backing for Rolls-led consortium to build new generation of ‘mini nukes’ unlocks hundreds of millions of taxpayer support. Britain has taken a crucial step towards creating a fleet of mini reactors that would reduce reliance on Chinese money and nuclear technology after Rolls-Royce secured investment to build the world’s first production line. A consortium led by the FTSE 100 engineer has secured at least £210m needed to unlock a matching amount of taxpayer funding, which will make it the first “small modular reactors” (SMR) developer to submit its designs to regulators. It is understood heavyweight financial investors specialising in energy are now thrashing out the final details of their backing to drive work on the so-called “mini nuke” power plants. State support for SMRs – which each generate about 450 megawatts, about a seventh of the output of conventional nuclear power stations such as Hinkley Point – was revealed in the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution released in the autumn. Rolls believes the project could create 40,000 new jobs in regions including Midlands and the North of England by 2050, with plans to install at least 16 plants at existing and former nuclear sites. Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “This is very positive news for the UK nuclear industry. SMRs must play a critical role in our clean energy transition and can open new export markets worth billions of pounds. “To realise this potential, however, the Government needs to establish a siting and policy framework by next year to enable the deployment of a fleet of SMRs and capture the promise of a net zero future.” Although officials are engaging with other businesses on SMRs, one Whitehall source described the Rolls-led consortium as “by far the most advanced”. The UK SMR consortium also includes the National Nuclear Laboratory and Laing O’Rourke, the construction firm. Ministers are expected to push for the Office for Nuclear Regulation to prioritise assessment of the consortium’s SMR design, while simultaneously driving the planning process to get potential sites.
Telegraph 3rd Aug 2021 read more »