Britain to invest in low-cost N-reactors

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The government’s investment will be matched by a private funding of over £250 million, and it is part of PM Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution seeking to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and meet the goals set out by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, reports Asian Lite News

The UK government announced on Tuesday a £210 million investment in a public-private project led by British aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce to design and build small nuclear reactors capable of powering one million homes apiece.

“Next steps in developing the design for one of the world’s first small modular reactors (SMR) has been backed by £210 million in new government funding for Rolls-Royce SMR,” the official statement said.

The UK government’s investment will be matched by a private funding of over £250 million, and it is part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution seeking to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and meet the goals set out by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

“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,” Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was quoted as saying.

The investment will take forward phase 2 of the Low-Cost Nuclear project to further develop SMR design and take it through the regulatory processes to assess suitability of potential deployment in the UK.

SMRs have the potential to be less expensive to build than traditional nuclear power plants because of their smaller size. Their modular nature of the components offers the potential for parts to be produced in dedicated factories and shipped by road to site – reducing construction time and cost. Rolls Royce SMR estimate that each Small Modular Reactor could be capable of powering 1 million homes – equivalent to a city the size of Leeds.

The announcement comes as the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP26) currently underway in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 till November 12 is expected to reach meaningful commitments to cut greenhouse emissions, achieve carbon neutrality and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The UK has already pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, phase out coal-fired power by 2035 and ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030.

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.”

The £210 million grant follows £18 million invested in November 2019, which has already delivered significant development of their initial design as part of Phase One of the Low-Cost Nuclear project.

Meanwhile, Rolls Royce Chief Executive Warren East said, “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.”

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