Rolls-Royce angling as medium term solution to UK power crisis

Posted: March 22, 2016 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, Nuclear power
Tags: ,

Could this be the UK’s last chance to be even slightly sensible about electricity generation?


By Paul Homewood


Rolls-Royce is engaged in discussion with the UK government over the possibility of its expertise being used to develop small modular nuclear reactors as an alternative to larger projects such as the controversial Hinkley Point C plant.
The company argues that the mini reactors it is championing are a more viable medium-term solution to
Britain’s looming energy crisis, although the first crop of new large reactors will still need to be deployed.

NuScale SMR nuclear reactor

Rolls says its expertise gained producing power plants for the Royal Navy’s submarines means it’s ideally positioned to fill the gap in the UK’s energy requirement while larger projects are being developed.
Hinkley Point C was initially meant to start generating next year but has been beset with problems linked to design and financing arrangements.
Paul Stein, Rolls’s director of research and technology, said: “Traditional plants are bespoke projects and aren’t getting cheaper…

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  1. oldbrew says:

    Meanwhile the Gatwick Gusher hits the jackpot. UKOG chairman: ‘We are delighted’.

  2. Brett Keane says:

    It may have been here where I saw that Rolls have run a naval unit in some town for over fifty years?

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    So instead of an unreliable supply at a Rolls-Royce price they want the Government to use….

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    They also have both base load and load following Diesel and gas gensets from contaianer sized and more. Looks like via a German subsidiary named MTU?

    They ought to take a page from GE’s book and make Gas Turbine gensets based on their aero jet engine.

    Good export market too.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmmm looks like Rolls already has them, just hard to find on their web site:

    Maybe they just OEM the turbines?

    At any rate, the UK can do home grown nuke or CCGT via Rolls Royce.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Hinkley Point: decision in May (latest final date).

  7. oldmanK says:

    EM Smith says “Hmmmm looks like Rolls already has them, just hard to find on their web site:”

    RR had very attractive prime movers for power generation nearly 20 yrs ago, namely Trent and the RB family. Fuel cost, and the site of your contractor’s maintenance shop, was a primary problem for outside UK customers, but that has now changed.

    On the other hand Nukes appear carbon free but they are not. The price in dollar and CO2 of the decommissioning should be factored in too. It is a major part of the ‘life-cycle’ costs.

  8. markstoval says:

    I have nothing good to say about Rolls nor anything bad to say about Rolls. (we Americans should mind our own business, eh?)

    But I do predict that the people of the UK will get nothing good out of this. Not because I don’t believe that Rolls has a lot of experience and engineering talent but, rather, because they will be dancing to the UK government’s tune. That is to say, they will be working for idiots. The idiots will not get out of the way and let them do what is needed.

  9. Fanakapan says:

    Good News on the Gatwick Gusher there 🙂

  10. Bryan says:

    Minister Amber Rudd MP gave an absolutely incompetent performance on Radio 4 BBC just finished now.

    The DECC Minister raised several points which were instantly refuted by the BBC presenter.
    The BBC presenter for once had done his homework.
    Amber just stumbled in and expected an easy ride and it spectacularly backfired

    Listen, if you get a chance and be amazed.

  11. oldbrew says:

    DECC is organising a modular nuclear reactor competition for the UK.

  12. oldbrew says:

    US giant Bechtel enters the modular nuclear race.

    ‘Global engineering and construction firm Bechtel has signed an agreement with BWX Technologies to accelerate development of the Generation III++ small modular nuclear reactor.’

    H/T Bishop Hill

  13. I was hoping someone would have a small modular MSR (preferably an LFTR) by now. Too bad that Sorensen and LeBlanc are more about promotion than building anything.

  14. oldbrew,
    Thanks for that list. The one I found most interesting was the CEFR because it was built and commissioned in 15 months. What a load of BS to suggest that nuclear reactors take decades to build.

    Imagine an even better design than the CEFR built at the rate of at least one per day, somewhat on the lines of “Liberty Ships” we produced at a rate of ~four per day in 1944. Within twenty years every dusty hamlet in the third world would enjoy the blessings of cheap electricity and they will tend to align with whoever made it happen. Will the “Bringer of Light” be the USA or the Peoples Republic of China?

    Bringing electricity to the third world would be a noble project that would sweep away the immoral and hypocritical insistence on “Mitigating Carbon Emissions”.

  15. oldmanK says:

    gallopingcamel makes a noteworthy comparison between Nukes and Liberty ships. The latter served a good purpose at the beginning of their life, but their end about 20 years later was a very different matter (floating coffins).

    Westinghouse was a leader in nukes but at one point pulled out from supplying them to governments that would likely abuse their use. Even in supposedly advanced countries, once the politician (or financial pressure) starts tampering with their management the results are predictable and ugly. Remember there is no such thing as a ‘clean-up’ after an incident (or abuse).

    There are a number of examples. One has only to look into the root cause, and how it was managed or mismanaged.

  16. oldmanK,
    The glory of Westinghouse has faded but they still have some impressive nuclear reactors such as the AP1000.

  17. oldmanK says:

    gallopingcamel: thank you for an interesting read.

    To me it also sounds an early alarm bell. When devious accounting becomes more important than serious engineering things begin to go wrong. Hopefully not with those nukes.

  18. oldbrew says:

    ‘In pursuit of partners: the UK doubles down on small modular reactors’

    ‘Last December, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), in conjunction with a range of research organisations and companies, released a feasibility study focusing on SMRs in the UK, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The review found four financially and technically viable options for SMR designs, by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), B&W and Bechtel, Westinghouse and NuScale.’

    ‘No doubt other contenders for the partnership will come to the fore once details of the January competition are released by DECC. ‘