Rolls-Royce raises funds for mini nuclear reactors
Proposed nuclear reactor
Rolls-Royce has confirmed that it has raised funds to develop a series of low cost, low carbon nuclear power generation plants.
The initiative is seen as a significant attempt to meet the anticipated surge in demand for clean energy.
A ‘small modular reactor’ will be the same size as two football pitches and can power approximately one million homes.
Rolls-Royce Group, BNF Resources UK and Exelon Generation will invest £195m across a period of around three years.
The funding will enable the business to secure grant funding of £210 million from UK Research and Innovation funding, first announced by the UK Prime Minister in ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’.
Today’s announcement is another step towards the delivery of the Government’s net zero strategy and its 10-point plan, said Rolls-Royce.
The business, which will continue to seek further investment, will identify sites for the factories which will manufacture the modules that enable on-site assembly of the power plants.
Nine-tenths of a Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80% could be delivered by a UK supply chain – a unique offering in energy infrastructure in the UK.
Much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the North of the UK, where there is significant existing nuclear expertise, though the project could face a frosty reception in Scotland where the SNP government is opposed to nuclear power generation.
Discussions will also continue with the UK Government on identifying the delivery models that will enable long-term investment in this vital, net-zero enabling technology. Rolls-Royce SMR is engaging with export customers across many continents who need this technology to meet their own net zero commitments.
Warren East, Rolls-Royce CEO adds, “the SMR programme is one of the ways that Rolls-Royce is meeting the need to ensure the UK continues to develop innovative ways to tackle the global threat of climate change.
“With the Rolls-Royce SMR technology, we have developed a clean energy solution which can deliver cost competitive and scalable net zero power for multiple applications from grid and industrial electricity production to hydrogen and synthetic fuel manufacturing.
“The business could create up to 40,000 jobs, through UK deployment and export enabled growth. As a major shareholder in Rolls-Royce SMR, we will continue to support its path to successful deployment.”
Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the UK to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before and ensure greater energy independence.
“Small Modular Reactors offer exciting opportunities to cut costs and build more quickly, ensuring we can bring clean electricity to people’s homes and cut our already-dwindling use of volatile fossil fuels even further.
“In working with Rolls-Royce, we are proud to back the largest engineering collaboration the UK has ever seen – uniting some of the most respected and innovating organisations on the planet.
“Not only can we maximise British content, create new intellectual property and reinvigorate supply chains, but also position our country as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies we can potentially export elsewhere. By harnessing British engineering and ingenuity, we can double down on our plan to deploy more home-grown, affordable clean energy in this country.”
Tom Samson, CEO, Rolls-Royce SMR, said: “Today’s announcement is fantastic news. Rolls-Royce SMR has been established to deliver a low cost, deployable, scalable and investable programme of new nuclear power plants.
“Our transformative approach to delivering nuclear power, based on predictable factory-built components, is unique and the nuclear technology is proven.
“Investors see a tremendous opportunity to decarbonise the UK through stable baseload nuclear power, in addition to fulfilling a vital export need as countries identify nuclear as an opportunity to decarbonise.
“The capitalisation of Rolls-Royce SMR takes us a step closer to achieving a unique, and most importantly investable, proposition in nuclear energy. It is a major vote of confidence in British nuclear technology and the potential for building a world-leading domestic supply chain.”