Brexit Britain scores major ‘independence’ victory with £210m investment in nuclear energy

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The investment will see the next step in developing the designs for one of the world’s first small modular reactors (SMRs). The Government has backed Rolls-Royce’s SMR project with £210million in funding to help cement Boris Johnson’s 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

After already securing £250million in investments from the private sector, the Government’s backing will take the SMR project to its second phase as the UK looks to develop options for cheap sources of renewable power.

This is being pursued as part of the Government’s Low-Cost Nuclear programme.

Phase two of the programme will see further development of the reactor design and take it through the regulatory processes to assess the suitability of potential deployment in the UK.

Nuclear power is seen as having a vital role to play in providing reliable, affordable, low-carbon energy as Britain seeks to meet Mr Johnson’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Although big projects for traditional nuclear power stations like Hinkley Point C, are costly and take a long time to build, SMRs could be cheaper to build because of their smaller size.

Last month, spoke to Rolls-Royce CTO Paul Stein about the huge potential for SMRs in the UK, which he claimed could be the cheapest way for Britain to achieve net zero.

He told “We think we have got one of the most competitive designs in the world for SMR and we’re very upbeat in the UK’s role in taking a big share of the global market.

“Our ambition is to get to a place where the consumer doesn’t see any price difference between net zero electricity and the electricity that they get today through fossil fuels. Nuclear is absolutely vital.

“Small modular reactors are complete innovations in the way you can strut the nuclear power stations.

“They are going to be huge for UK industry, and we have quoted 40,000 jobs around the UK”.

Rolls-Royce claimed that each SMR could power one million homes, around the same size as a city like Leeds.

The news also comes as Parliament considers the Nuclear Energy Financing Bill which establishes a new financing model for nuclear projects, known as the Regulated Asset Base (RAB).

This might attract more private investment into these projects, reducing build costs, consumers’ energy bills and Britain’s dependence on overseas developers for funds.

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.”

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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. “

Mr Kwarteng suggested that this can help the UK to become a world leader in nuclear power.

He said: “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.”

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