Rolls-Royce is evaluating potential locations in Great Britain for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) concept, which it claims can provide the nation with a net-zero-carbon option for energy independence. Three sites in England and Wales are said to be under consideration by Rolls-Royce for the new power plants.
Rolls’ notice may be an effort by the engineering group to encourage the U.K. government to continue it sponsorship of the SMR project, allowing Rolls to proceed with its vision to realize the power projects by the end of this decade.
The SMR concept centers on low-cost, factory-built nuclear power stations with at least 440 MW of electrical energy-generating capacity. The compact scale of the plants would allow systems and components to be manufactured more easily and affordably, at existing production sites, and transported to the installation sites.
Rolls has indicated it would target initial construction of four SMR plants, each one estimated to cost $2.45 billion (£2 billion.) In an interview last spring, Paul Stein, chairman of Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactors consortium, reported that the regulatory approval process had been initiated and is on track for completion in mid-2024.
In 2020, Rolls led the launch of the consortium of businesses and the U.K. government to establish a series of SMRs in Britain by 2030. The U.K.’s previous Conservative government provided $546 million in funding in 2021 for Rolls to advance the nuclear-energy concept.
However, the current government reportedly is not fully committed to the SMR program. Apart from financial support for the project, regulatory clearance is needed for the development to continue.
Britain draws 13% of its electricity from nuclear power plants, most of which are nearing the end of their lifecycles, and although the nation has considerable natural gas resources it also is committed to reduce carbon emissions by mid-century.