The UK could benefit from lower cost electricity if the government were to back a small modular reactor programme for the UK, according to a new report, “UK SMR: A National Endeavour”, issued on 12 September by Rolls-Royce and its partners in a UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) consortium.
Rolls-Royce and partners, including Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Laing O’Rourke and Nuvia, say SMRs could produce energy for as little as £60 ($79) per megawatt hour, which is competitive with wind and solar power and which would help to reduce the price of nuclear-generated power. The study urges support for the development of British-manufactured power plants, which could create 40,000 skilled jobs, contribute £100bn to the economy and open up a potential £400bn global export market.
Harry Holt, President – Nuclear, Rolls-Royce, said: “The UK has never had a greater need for low-cost, low carbon, safe, secure and reliable energy production."
"With demand for energy set to rise in the near future – in part due to the growing popularity of electric cars – we believe that a UK SMR programme is a vital addition to our national infrastructure."
Holt said the SMR programme represents a "once in a lifetime opportunity" for UK companies to design, manufacture and operate next generation reactors to meet our energy challenge, bolster the Government’s Industrial Strategy, bring jobs and growth to our economy and provide valuable post-Brexit exports.
Independent Fellows of The Royal Academy of Engineering were invited by Rolls-Royce to review the consortium’s business case for SMRs. Richard Maudslay, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, who led the study said: “The review team concluded that a UK SMR programme managed by a Rolls-Royce-led consortium with appropriate full and ongoing government support would offer the UK the best opportunity to design, manufacture and construct the next generation of nuclear plants and would help to deliver a national nuclear strategy.”
In a foreword to the report, Lord Hutton, Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “It is vitally important to make the decision to move forward on this opportunity now."
He added: "That is why the UK Government should make clear its intentions so that the UK can deliver a solution that will supply secure, reliable and affordable electricity for more than 60 years and capitalise on new overseas markets that are emerging for SMRs.”