Initial funding confirmed for UK SMR

The UK SMR consortium has received match funding to support the early development of a new type of nuclear power station.

The initial investment of £18 million from UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) will be matched by the consortium of nuclear, civil engineering construction and manufacturing industry firms, who have been working on the preliminary design for four years.

The power station is a compact design, the components for which will be manufactured in sections in regional UK factories, before being transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy. This cuts costs by avoiding weather disruptions and secures gradual efficiency savings by using streamlined and standardised manufacturing processes for its components.

By 2050, a full UK programme of up to 16 of these power stations could create up to 40,000 jobs, £52 billion of value to the UK economy, and £250 billion of exports.

The consortium is led by Rolls-Royce, with Assystem, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Atkins, Wood, The Welding Institute (TWI) and the Nuclear AMRC.

Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer for Rolls-Royce, said: “Tackling climate change requires collaboration across industries and governments to find effective, affordable and sustainable ways of achieving net zero by 2050.

“The consortium’s work with the government shows that action is being taken to decarbonise our economy and meet our society’s vital and growing power needs. This is a very positive step forward to this next phase of the programme.”

The target cost for each station is £1.8 billion by the time five have been built, with further savings possible. Each power station will be able to operate for 60 years and provide 440MW of electricity, enough to power a city the size of Leeds.

The shared initial investment will be used to progress the significant opportunities presented by the programme; prepare it for the UK’s regulatory Generic Design Assessment process; and make final decisions on which innovations to pursue and realise. It will also generate valuable confidence that the supply chain needs to begin to prepare for a programme that could create around £52 billion of value for the UK economy.

When licensed and supported by the required enabling legislation and siting processes, the power station could provide reliable low carbon energy from the early 2030s.

The Government’s intent to support the programme was announced in July 2019.