The UK Government has promised £210m ($285m) of funding for defence and aerospace company Rolls-Royce to help it build small modular reactors (SMRs).

The funding, together with a £250m investment from the private sector, will be used to advance the second phase of the low-cost nuclear project, which will involve further development of the SMR design.

Rolls-Royce will also use the funding to take the project through different regulatory processes to evaluate its potential implementation in the UK.

Due to their smaller size, the construction of SMRs is expected to be less expensive than that of conventional nuclear power plants.

The UK is currently working to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, with new nuclear energy expected to play a key role in improving the country’s low-carbon energy security.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “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.

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“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.”

Rolls-Royce estimates that one SMR can power around one million homes, equivalent to a city the size of Leeds.

Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East said: “With the Rolls-Royce SMR technology, we have developed a clean energy solution that 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 UK Parliament is currently considering the regulated asset base (RAB) funding model for building nuclear projects, with the aim of boosting private investment.