The establishment of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business has been announced, to bring forward and deliver at scale the next generation of low cost, low carbon nuclear power technology.
Some £195M will be invested by Rolls-Royce Group, BNF Resources UK Limited and Exelon Generation Limited across a period of three years. The funding will enable the business to secure grant funding of £210M from UK Research and Innovation funding, first announced by the UK Prime Minister in ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’.
The business, which will continue to seek further investment, will now proceed rapidly with a range of parallel delivery activities, including entry to the UK Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and identifying sites for the factories which will manufacture the modules that enable on-site assembly of the power plants. 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.
Rolls-Royce SMR is using proven nuclear technology, coupled with a unique factory-made module manufacturing and on-site assembly system, to harness decades of British engineering, design and manufacturing knowhow. It brings together the best of UK industry to ensure a decarbonisation solution that will be available to the UK grid in the early 2030s. The potential for this to be a leading global export for the UK is unprecedented.
Nine-tenths of an individual 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
A single Rolls-Royce SMR power station will occupy the footprint of two football pitches and power approximately one million homes. It can support both on-grid electricity and a range of off-grid clean energy solutions, enabling the decarbonisation of industrial processes and the production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and green hydrogen, to support the energy transition in the wider heat and transportation sectors.
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.”
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