Could small nuclear reactors be deployed to fill these gaps? The answer is yes, according to Rolls-Royce. The manufacturer has developed prototypes of small modular reactors (SMRs), which could be transported around the UK and deployed at locations where energy supply isn’t meeting demand. They could supplement energy generated by renewables – solar power and windfarms. The SMRs that Rolls-Royce has designed are 16m in height and just 4m in diameter. One SMR can be housed within a power station that’s a little bigger than five times the size of the Wembley pitch. Rolls-Royce has plans for 16 SMRs, so far, with the first to be up and running by the beginning of the next decade. A report published last summer by the Nuclear Industry Association warned that the UK’s net-zero target would be at risk if it didn’t consider building smaller and advanced nuclear reactors. The UK has seven nuclear sites in operation, providing 20% of the country’s electricity, yet six of these will go offline by 2030, so there’s a clear need for innovation to prevent a nuclear-sized chasm from opening up in the energy network.
iMech 23rd April 2021 read more »