£2bn fund earmarked for 16 ‘mini’ nuclear power stations 

Posted: October 10, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, government, Nuclear power
Tags: ,

Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]


The aviation industry is on the ropes, so Rolls-Royce needs other work to try and remain profitable, and hopes nuclear can be part of the government’s green splurge.
– – –
Development of mini nuclear power stations could be boosted by a £2bn government investment as the industry fights to stay afloat, says New Civil Engineer.

The aid plan could facilitate the design and construction of 16 sites by 2050, with work undertaken by a Rolls Royce-led consortium.

In January of this year, the consortium first announced plans to build the small modular reactors (SMRs) at former nuclear sites in Cumbria and Wales.

The government provided £18M for this design stage, with the consortium matching the funding. Designs are expected to be finished next spring.

The group also includes Assystem, SNC Lavalin/Atkins, Wood, Arup, Laing O’Rourke, Bam Nuttall, Siemens, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and Nuclear AMRC.

Rolls-Royce claims its smaller reactors can produce affordable energy with a lower carbon footprint than traditional nuclear sites.

According to the Financial Times, the new investment of between £1.5bn and £2bn is under discussion, likely to be announced in the Treasury’s next spending review this year.

The first five sites are expected to cost £2.2bn, while the others will cost around £1.8bn, in comparison to the £22.5bn Hinkley is expected to cost.

Twelve months ago, EDF announced that plans at Hinkley were at risk of delay after the cost rose by £2.9bn.

This comes as plans for large nuclear power stations are stalling.

Full report here.

Comments
  1. A C Osborn says:

    They don’t really need much money, they need a sensible change to all the rules governing Big Nuclear, that do not apply to small nuclear.
    It would save them years of wrangle and millions in delays.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Rolls-Royce claims its smaller reactors can produce affordable energy with a lower carbon footprint than traditional nuclear sites.

    A smaller disaster if it goes wrong would be more to the point, as they haven’t tested any yet.

  3. Gamecock says:

    This story is the emails sent around every few years that keeps snopes in business. Though this one is way more frequent. Several times this year.

    Here it is a couple of years ago.

    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/who-killed-the-small-modular-nuclear-programme/

  4. ivan says:

    oldbrew, they have been tested for quite a while in the nuclear submarines – haven’t heard of any problems with them, there are also as few in shipping, mainly icebreakers.

    The problem is, as A C Osborn says the stupid rules that apply to large civil reactors, most of which came about by the old bats demonstrating at Greenham Common in the days when nuclear was new. Those regulations are so convoluted they make nuclear power plants less safe rather than safer – in engineering you do not add more safety circuits on safety circuits to make something safer, human nature being what it is most people will ignore any alarm because someone else will pick it up.

    Since there are an adequate set of regulations governing the nuclear reactors used in submarines and shipping why not apply them to these small reactors, or are there some civil servants afraid they won’t get the kickback money they expect?

  5. oldbrew says:

    Ivan – yes, RR knows how to do it, but you still want to test a new product.

    Boeing knows how to build planes but look at the 737-MAX fiasco.

  6. ivan says:

    oldbrew, I totally agree with testing any large engineering project – in the engineering world that is a given. What I do object to is applying regulations that do not apply to the project under discussion especially when there are very good regulations that do apply, especially when the regulations the government want to apply just add cost and complexity that will guarantee a lowering of standards and safety and an increase in costs.

    Regarding the 737-MAX fiasco, as far as I have been able to piece together the published reports it was the fault of managers farming out computer programming to people that were the lowest bidder and who didn’t really know what they were doing coupled with no real stress testing and certification – an accident waiting to happen and it did.

  7. cognog2 says:

    Brilliant 👍 and about time too. Concur with comments on getting rid of outdated regulations and on matters of safety these SMRs using molten salt technology are intrinsically safe, operating at ambient pressure, self regulating and with the salts freezing in any event of rupture.
    I’m not acquainted with the Rolls Royce technology but gather the Canadian Moltex company is working on the lines I describe above.

    I just hope the bureaucracy doesn’t go and escalate the costs.

  8. stephen richards says:

    This cannot be an initiative of the current UK parliamentary conservative party. They are useful clowns in a global circus but that’s where their abilities end

  9. oldbrew says:

    Ivan – I’m reminded of the old computing joke:

    Testing? We have our customers for that.

  10. ivan says:

    oldbrew, are you sure that is a joke – just look at how Microsoft is handling Win 10, from what I see of it they are sending out beta, or in some cases alpha, software for the world to test.

  11. pochas94 says:

    @cognog2 The thing I worry about with molten salt tech is corrosion.

  12. Gamecock says:

    ‘Concur with comments on getting rid of outdated regulations and on matters of safety these SMRs using molten salt technology are intrinsically safe, operating at ambient pressure, self regulating’

    You have no clue what you are talking about. Quit reading Popular Mechanics.

    “oldbrew, they have been tested for quite a while in the nuclear submarines”

    You have no clue what you are talking about. Military reactors and civilian reactors are two completely different animals.

  13. Kip Hansen says:

    Just a couple of years ago, I drove by the site in Idaho [USA] where they are installing a set of SMRs.

    https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/nations-first-small-modular-reactor-plant-power-nuclear-research-idaho-national

    SMRs are the future of electrical production and may finally, after a millennia or two, get humans away from “burning stuff” for energy.

  14. This is some rare positive news in UK energy development. It would seem that small modular is the future of UK nuclear, especially if a British manufacturer (RR) can make them. This could explain why the UK allowed the Wylfa-Hitachi project to die.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-54175280

  15. Pochas, You might if scientists who all know nothing about corrosion are involved but chemical engineers and nuclear engineers (which are specialist chemical engineers) know all about corrosion and how to deal with it. The Chernobyl accident was caused by socialist scientists (they were not engineers with knowledge of the reactors) playing around pushing the reactor to find the limit for KGB masters. Registered professional engineers who follow a code of ethics always consider safety aspects at every step. Politicians care about nothing other than their own welfare and the power to maintain their welfare. These days many scientists follow the political route. There are now few scientists that are competent, honest and follow a code of ethics. Just look at the Nobel prizes.How many deserve them? A black hole where physics no longer exists?.

  16. ivan says:

    I do know what I am talking about Gamecock. In fact military reactors require a higher standard of construction and control than civil reactors. Please quote any regulations that say otherwise.

  17. cognog2 says:

    @pochas94: Yes agree. That is where the R&D is needed due to the high temperatures involved. I speak as a now retired corrosion engineer and have confidence.

  18. Gamecock says:

    “In fact military reactors require a higher standard of construction and control than civil reactors.”

    You know nothing. Military reactors do not include refueling in their design. They are intended to run decades without refueling. Civilian reactors are designed with frequent refueling in mind.

    The military does this by using highly enriched uranium. Unavailable to civilian users, because of the extreme potential of terrorists getting their hands on it.

    “Since there are an adequate set of regulations governing the nuclear reactors used in submarines and shipping why not apply them to these small reactors, or are there some civil servants afraid they won’t get the kickback money they expect?”

    As ignorant as ignorant gets.

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