Rolls-Royce to create 40,000 jobs as £450m nuclear project gets green light: ‘Exciting’

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The British engineering giant will set up a venture to develop their small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in partnership with investors BNF Resources and US generator Exelon Generation in a joint investment of £195million that will finance the plans for the next three years. The joint venture will help the business to secure grant funding of £210million from the UK Government’s UK Research and Innovation fund.

That funding was included in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “Ten Point Plan” for a “Green Industrial Revolution” and the SMRs will be rolled out as part of the Government’s net zero strategy.

Rolls-Royce say that SMRs are a cheaper and quicker way to generate power than traditional nuclear power stations.

Speaking exclusively to, Rolls-Royce CTO Paul Stein said: “SMRs are designed to be an investable proposition from the outset and with a significantly lower capital cost than conventional large scale new nuclear.

“They’re probably the lowest cost way to achieve net zero power to power our homes, industries and other parts of the economy.

“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”.

The rollout of SMRs could prove vital in ramping up the amount of nuclear power in the energy grid.

Currently, large nuclear power projects such as Hinkley Point C are costly and difficult to roll out quickly.

Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, was originally expected to cost £18billion, but the price soared to £23billion.

EDF, the state-owned French energy company and UK ministers have also locked horns over a new funding framework for Sizewell C in Suffolk.

But Rolls Royce is working with the Government to identify the delivery models that will enable long-term investment in the SMR project.

Mr Stein told that SMRs could be key in helping to revitalise the UK economy.

He said: “There’s big export potential for the UK and we see it as a significant contribution not only to net zero but also a revival to the UK economy.

“The export opportunity for the total market is £250billion, and we are upbeat about the UK’s role in taking a big share of that total market.”

Each of the initial runs of reactors should have a generation capacity of 470MW, which is around enough to power the equivalent of 1.3million UK homes.

It will cost about £2billion on average, which is far lower than the price per MW which developers look for in large-scale nuclear reactors.

While a fifth of UK electricity is generated by 13 nuclear reactors, over half of the country’s 7.8GW of nuclear capacity is scheduled to be phased out by 2025, posing a threat to electricity supplies and there are fears that gas stations will be more relied upon.

This could also be significant as EDF, who are in charge of eight nuclear power stations in the UK, is a French-controlled company.

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Emmanuel Macron has recently threatened to tear up energy contracts over the post-Brexit fishing rows.

But Rolls Royce could help the Government to become less to dependent on French energy and push the UK to become self-sufficient.

The consortium is aiming to build on an initial run of five SMRs, the first of which should be in use in 2031.

This will eventually be increased to a fleet of 16 SMRs around the country.

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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