Rolls-Royce is preparing to shut down its project to develop small nuclear reactors if the government does not make a long-term commitment including financial support in the coming months. The UK aero-engine maker has scaled back investment significantly, from several millions to simply paying for “a handful of salaries”, said Warren East, Rolls-Royce chief executive, in an interview with the Financial Times. David Orr, executive vice-president of Rolls-Royce’s small modular reactors programme, said that without comfort from the government on two fronts the project “will not fly. We are coming to crunch time.” Rolls-Royce wants its technology to be chosen as the first to apply for a licence when a slot is made available later this year. It also wants the government to provide financial support, initially of about £20m, to take the technology through the early stages of the licensing process. This would be match-funded by the consortium, which includes companies such as Laing O’Rouke and Arup. Rolls-Royce is one of several consortia to have bid in a government-sponsored competition launched in 2015 to find the most viable technology for a new generation of small nuclear power plants. However, when a nuclear sector deal was finally unveiled last month, the government allocated funding only for more advanced modular reactors (AMRs). SMR’s, which typically use water-cooled reactors similar to existing nuclear power stations, were omitted from specific funding even though they are closer to becoming commercial. This has frustrated those putting forward SMR bids. Rolls-Royce has argued that developing its technology should be regarded as a “national endeavour” to develop nuclear skills that can be used to create an export led industry. Senior executives have argued the government could make a commitment along the lines of that made last week on Britain’s combat air capability, where it agreed an investment timetable with industry and set out its long-term ambitions for the sector.
FT 22nd July 2018 read more »
UK-based Moltex Energy will build a demonstration SSR-W (Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner) at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant site in Canada under an agreement signed with the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation and NB Power. The agreement provides CAD5.0 million (USD3.8 million) of financial support to Moltex for its immediate development activities and Moltex will open its North American headquarters in Saint John and build its development team there. It also calls for Moltex to deploy its first SSR-W at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant site before 2030. Stable Salt Reactors build on the fundamental safety and simplicity breakthrough of molten salt fuel in essentially standard nuclear fuel tubes. Stable Salt Reactors are modular in construction. Their rectangular cores can be extended module by module to create reactors from 150MW to 1200MW power.
Next Big Future 19th July 2018 read more »