Press Room

British small nuclear plants can deliver low cost, low carbon electricity

12th September 2017
  • UK industry has once in a lifetime opportunity to provide secure, reliable and affordable power for decades to come

  • Small Modular Reactor (SMR) capable of delivering electricity at £60 per MWh

British consumers could benefit from lower cost electricity if the Government was to back an SMR programme for the UK, according to a new report issued today by Rolls-Royce and its partners in a UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) consortium.

The company and partners, including Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Laing O’Rourke and Nuvia, say SMRs could produce energy for as low as £60 per megawatt hour – competitive against wind and solar and helping the continual reduction in the price of nuclear generated power.  

The study, entitled “UK SMR: A National Endeavour”, urges Ministers to support 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.

The report argues that, through its innovative approach to modular construction, the UK SMR programme is uniquely placed to avoid the complexities, delays and overspends often associated with infrastructure projects.

Highlighting the importance of delivering security of supply as decarbonisation and electric vehicles look set to increase electricity demands from consumers, the study points out that just one SMR can power a city the size of Leeds, charge more than 62,000 electric cars, or keep 88 million smartphones operational.

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.

“It 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. 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.”