UK commits funding to Rolls-Royce SMR

23 July 2019

Rolls-Royce has today welcomed the UK government's decision to advance its small modular reactor programme. The government says it will commit GBP18.0 million (USD22.4 million) of initial funds to support the development of the power plant as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, subject to final confirmation in the early autumn.

A rendering of a plant based on Rolls-Royce's SMR (Image: Rolls-Royce)

Rolls-Royce and its partners have said a UK SMR programme could contribute GBP100 billion to the UK economy and open up a global export market. The consortium comprises Rolls-Royce, Assystem, SNC Lavalin/Atkins, Wood, Arup, Laing O’Rourke, BAM Nuttall, Siemens, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and Nuclear AMRC.

"Our design will bolster the UK's ambitions to tackle climate change while taking a further step towards creating an estimated 40,000 British jobs, reinvigorating a vital part of the country’s advanced manufacturing base and potentially generating hundreds of billions of pounds in export revenues," the British engineering firm said. "By working with the consortium, led by Rolls-Royce, the government has “laid the foundations for a homegrown nuclear power plant industry."

The company added that this will: provide the reliable and affordable electricity that Britain needs to lead the world in the drive towards net-zero carbon emissions; further bolster the take-up of other renewable energies, by providing reliable power, helping to guarantee Britain’s energy security and position as a leading innovator in low-carbon technologies; inspire a new generation of young engineers, chemists and physicists, draw upon the expertise of the country’s world-leading universities and create valuable intellectual property; offer opportunities to revitalise parts of Britain’s heavy industry and unlock prosperity across the UK regions through the construction and operation of power stations and advanced manufacturing facilities; open up employment opportunities within the SMEs that will be needed both in the manufacturing supply chain and support areas.

"Funding from the government will be matched in part by contributions from the consortium and by attracting third-party investment. The investment is needed to mature the design, address the considerable manufacturing technology requirements and to progress the regulatory licensing process," Rolls-Royce said. "It will also give companies within the UK supply chain the confidence they need to plan investments in capability so that the UK’s low-carbon energy industry can become a global player, matching the Government’s ambitions for the country to be a global leader in tackling climate change."

There have already been expressions of interest from other countries, it added, reinforcing the consortium's confidence in the potential scale of the export opportunity, which it says could be more than GBP250 billion.

The design's technical and commercial foundations have been validated, it said, by the UK Research and Innovation team's assessment for the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund; the independent assessment by the government's Expert Finance Working Group; and by due diligence led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In a separate statemet, Tom Jones, vice president of international business development at Assystem, said: "This early investment in the design phase will be key for the country's economy as well as its ambition towards achieving net zero and tackling climate change."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News