Rolls-Royce triggers £250bn nuclear race: Huge boost for economy if UK consortium gets go-ahead to build fleet of mini reactor plants. A consortium of British businesses led by manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce has submitted proposals to Ministers to accelerate the building of a new fleet of mini nuclear reactors in the North of England. The plans, circulated in Whitehall ‘in the last few weeks’, could see construction of high-tech factories to build the small reactors begin by next year. The consortium – which includes UK construction and engineering firms Laing O’Rourke, Atkins and BAM Nuttall – would use British intellectual property to build the reactors. It would work with partners from the US, Canada and France. It has been estimated that exporting small nuclear reactor technology could be worth £250billion to the UK if the programme is successful. Sources told The Mail on Sunday that the plan is ‘starting to resonate’ in parts of Government because it could boost the economy as the country recovers from the destruction wrought by the pandemic. Tom Samson, interim chief executive of the consortium, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We could be looking at locations and beginning to build factories as soon as next year with modules [to build the reactors] starting to come out of the factories by 2024 or 2025. ‘We’ve got over 100 people today working on the programme. It could generate hundreds more jobs even this year. As soon as we get the signal we’ll be able to start ramping up our activities on engineering, planning and project management.’ It would also appeal to Tory MPs keen to reduce Britain’s reliance on China. Chinese firms are currently appointed to build large nuclear reactors in Britain at locations including Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. However, there are growing concerns among senior Tories about Chinese influence over critical infrastructure in the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated his intention to distance the UK from China economically, amid talk of phasing out Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s new 5G mobile internet network. Samson said: ‘We want to become a champion of that clean energy space and I think, equally compelling, is the potential to connect the SMR programme to the production of industrial heat applications, synthetic fuels and aviation fuels being deployed in our engines, not just to provide energy into the grid. ‘It’s not unrealistic for us to be focusing on bringing on the first unit by 2029.
This is Money 13th June 2020 read more »