Leading engineering firm Rolls-Royce PLC has secured £455 million ($617 million) in funding from British government and a consortium of private investors to develop small nuclear reactors to generate cleaner energy.
The company said that a special purpose vehicle(SPV), set up by it for Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business, has received equity participation from BNF Resources UK Limited, a family office with extensive investments in the energy space, and Exelon Generation Limited, a subsidiary of Exelon Generation, the U.S.’s largest producer of carbon-free energy.
The three entities will together will invest £195m across a period of around three years.
The U.K government will top it up with a support of £210 million($284.6 million) from U.K Research and Innovation funding, first announced by the U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson in ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’, for nuclear reactor project
Rolls-Royce has been a nuclear reactor plant designer since the start of the U.K nuclear submarine programme in the 1950s.
Rolls-Royce SMR said that the company will draw upon standard nuclear energy technology that has been used in 400 reactors around the world.
The investment by Rolls-Royce Group, BNF Resources, Exelon and the government will go towards developing Rolls-Royce's SMR design and take it through regulatory processes to assess whether it is suitable to be deployed in the UK. It will also identify sites which will manufacture the reactors' parts and most of the venture's investment is expected to be focused in the north of the U.K, where there is existing nuclear expertise.
"A Rolls-Royce SMR power station will have the capacity to generate 470mw of low carbon energy, equivalent to more than 150 onshore wind turbines. It will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years, helping to support the roll out of renewable generation, helping to overcome intermittency." the company statement said.
Each of the initial run of reactors is expected to have a generation capacity of 470MW, or enough to power the equivalent of 1.3m UK homes, and cost about £2bn on average, well below the price per MW sought by developers of large-scale nuclear reactors.
The company said that it expects to create 40,000 regional UK jobs by 2050 and generate £52bn in economic benefit.
Kwasi Kwarteng, U,K business and energy secretary, said that “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.
Currently about 20% of U.K energy requirements are sourced from Nuclear power.
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