UK Research and Innovation is to provide an initial £18m in match funding to a consortium of companies designing a new type of nuclear power station in the UK.
The joint investment from UKRI will be matched by the firms who have been working on the preliminary design for a standardised small modular reactor.
The power station is a compact design with components manufactured in sections before being transported to existing nuclear sites for assembly inside a weatherproof canopy, which cuts costs associated with weather disruptions. This method is also expected to lead to savings by using streamlined and standardised manufacturing processes for its components.
According to consortium lead Rolls-Royce, a fleet of 16 small modular reactors in place by 2050 could create 40,000 jobs, add £52bn to the UK economy, and have an export value of £250bn.
In a statement, 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 partners in the consortium are Assystem, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Rolls-Royce, Atkins, Wood, The Welding Institute (TWI) and Nuclear AMRC.
According to Rolls-Royce, the target cost for each station is £1.8bn by the time five have been built, and each power station will be able to operate for 60 years and provide 440MW of electricity.
The consortium previously proposed an industry and government match-funded challenge worth around £500m to support the design of a standardised small modular nuclear power station. In July 2019 this was accepted into Wave 3 of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
When licensed and supported, this new form of power station could provide start generating from the early 2030s.