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Rolls-Royce's Mini-Nuclear Reactors

Three sites in the UK have been shortlisted for the company's first factory supplying parts for its proposed network of small nuclear power generators. It's a significant step forward for Rolls-Royce’s ambition to eventually build about 30 “small-modular nuclear reactors” that will supply millions of homes and businesses with clean electricity.


Illustration of a Rolls-Royce mini-nuclear reactor
Credit: rolls-royce-smr.com

It wants to start producing the plants in the early 2030s and charge about £1.8bn ($2.35bn) for the 470 megawatt units, which will each generate enough to power a city with about 500,000 residents. By comparison, the fully fledged nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, on the Bristol Channel coast of Somerset, England, due to open in 2026, will cost around £23 billion ($30bn) and generate 3,260 megawatts. That makes Rolls Royce's stations substantially cheaper - roughly half the price per megawatt.


Trade body the Nuclear Industry Association said: “This is a vital step forward for British nuclear technology. The UK needs the Rolls-Royce SMR to strengthen our energy security and cut our dependence on gas as we move toward net zero.


“The SMR can also play an essential role in enhancing British industrial capability, creating tens of thousands of jobs, revitalising the nuclear skills base and boosting the green economic recovery.”


Tom Samson, chief executive of Rolls’s SMR division, said it aims to eventually build at least three factories manufacturing components for the SMRs, amounting to “an incredible opportunity for a region of the UK”.


He added: “Our power stations will be built in British factories situated in the north of England or Wales and will generate tens of thousands of long-term highly skilled jobs - accelerating regional economic growth.”

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