Rolls-Royce leads consortium to build small nuclear reactors in the UK

Jessica Paige 24 January 2020 (Last Updated January 24th, 2020 13:11)

Industrial technology company Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium to build and install small modular reactors (SMRs) on former nuclear sites to power the UK by 2029. The nuclear-powered SMRs will be 1.5 acres in size within a 10-acre space and create affordable energy with a lower carbon footprint, according to the company.

Rolls-Royce leads consortium to build small nuclear reactors in the UK
Between ten and 15 stations are set to be built in the UK on former nuclear sites in Wales or Cumbria where each reactor will produce 440MWe of electricity. Credit: Rolls-Royce

Industrial technology company Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium to build and install small modular reactors (SMRs) on former nuclear sites to power the UK by 2029. The nuclear-powered SMRs will be 1.5 acres in size within a 10-acre space and create affordable energy with a lower carbon footprint, according to the company.

Between ten and 15 stations are set to be built in the UK on former nuclear sites in Wales or Cumbria where each reactor will produce 440MWe of electricity. This is enough to power a city the size of Leeds, charge 88 million smartphones, light 40 million bulbs, run eight million large TVs and charge 62,857 cars, according to Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce said: “Our world needs more low-carbon power than ever. So we’re leading a UK consortium to develop an affordable power plant that generates electricity using a small modular reactor – an intelligent way to meet our future energy needs.”

Mini nuclear stations will be mass-manufactured in easily delivered modules off-site and are designed to optimise the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) against capital cost.

Rolls-Royce chief technology officer Paul Stein told the BBC: “The trick is to have prefabricated parts where we use advanced digital welding methods and robotic assembly and then parts are shipped to site and bolted together,” adding that this approach reduces costs resulting in cheaper electricity.

Funding obstacles are common when building nuclear stations and have led to abandoned projects from companies such as Toshiba and Hitachi. Rolls-Royce aims to overcome funding obstacles by selling SMR’s abroad in order to achieve economies of scale.

Rolls-Royce said: “The certainty behind our UK SMR technology is the foundation of a sound business case for owners, operators, utilities and governments. Knowing build costs and the price of the electricity generated makes nuclear energy an option for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it.”