Britain’s real energy revolution: Rolls-Royce to roll out Small Modular Reactors by 2030 

Posted: May 17, 2021 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, Nuclear power
Tags: ,

Rolls-Royce’s revised reactor building design.

As most of the UK’s existing reactors will have closed down by 2030, time for dither and delay is over, or should be. The percentage of reliable electricity on the grid system is already sinking too fast due to climate obsessions.

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The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project has revamped the proposed mini reactors to increase their output.

The factory-built reactors will now generate 470 megawatts, enough to provide electricity to a million homes.

The project, launched in 2015, aims to bring ten mini nuclear reactors into use by 2035, with the first due to enter service around 2030.

Tom Samson, chief executive of the UK SMR Consortium, said negotiations had begun with potential investors to fund the creation of the mini reactors – signalling that the project may move more rapidly than previously thought.

He said it was looking for customers, which could include energy, industrial or technology companies, to operate the sites. He added: ‘We’re ready to take this technology to market. We’re going to be pursuing orders. We’re hoping to get orders soon.’

The UK’s nuclear power industry has had a chequered recent past with the future of some huge plants thrown into doubt. Rolls-Royce hopes to create a nimbler solution to complement big power stations.

Rolls-Royce is the major share holder in the venture, which has been developed through a consortium that includes Atkins, Jacobs and Laing O’Rourke. The Government has so far invested £18million to support its design and £215million has been earmarked for the SMR programme as part of a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’.

Samson said a further £300million of private capital is now being sought to develop the reactors, which it hopes will be located both in the UK and overseas. […]

Samson said 220 engineering decisions had been made in the latest designs. He said the switch from an ‘armadillo’-shaped building to one with a ‘faceted’ top allowing the roof to wrap around the inner workings made it more efficient.

The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings was a champion of the UK SMR programme, but Samson said No.10 remained behind the project and it chimed with current policy.

He added: ‘We unashamedly wrap ourselves in the Union Jack. This is a really proud UK innovation that we’ve developed here at low cost. And that’s what consumers need.’

Full article here.

  1. AC Osborn says:

    Much too sensible for this Government to push to the hilt.
    They are committed to wishy washy green intermittent non power.

  2. Rob Johnson-Taylor says:

    Hope they are Thorium based, then they don’t have to be situated on the coast, but nearer to where power needed.

  3. Gamecock says:

    And in 2025 they’ll announce they’ll be ready in 2035.

  4. JB says:

    I’m all for it. I just don’t see ambitious projects like this coming to fruition what with Gates of Hell depopulation and Schwaubian cyborg economy on the horizon.

    What they’re trying to accomplish is a magnified version of corporate consolidation. And the casualty of such strategies is the savvy work force always takes the hit. So who is going to be left to implement this power solution in 5-10 years?

  5. Gamecock says:

    ‘The factory-built reactors will now generate 470 megawatts’

    Uhh, no, they haven’t been built yet.

    We’ve been getting press releases on the RR SMR for 5 years now. Serious skepticism is in order.

  6. Kip Hansen says:

    SMRs are currently being planned for Idaho, USA. See:

    Advanced SMR are the future of electrical generation.

  7. pochas94 says:

    The bright light of reason shines in the UK. Cheers!!

  8. Gamecock says:

    Just another press release, Mr Hansen. Sonal Patel is a stenographer, not a reporter.

    Also note that an SMR at $6,000,000,000 solves nothing. Get them under a billion, then we can talk.

  9. Stephen Richards says:

    pochas94 says:
    May 17, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    The bright light of reason shines in the UK. Cheers!!

    The bright light shines in british industry. The No 10 is still fitting the curtains to hide it from view

  10. Stephen Richards says:

    Gamecock says:
    May 17, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    Just another press release, Mr Hansen. Sonal Patel is a stenographer, not a reporter.

    Also note that an SMR at $6,000,000,000 solves nothing. Get them under a billion, then we can talk.

    Unlike large scale Nuclear which are very bespoke, these are uniform, reproducible units ( we hope ) so will be cheaper if they can sell enough.

  11. Gamecock says:

    The economy should also be in the ‘small.’

    Small, reproducable doesn’t equal 6 billion.

    But, again, these are just press releases, signifying nothing. I think too many here want this so bad they are loosing their sense of reason. In fact, you should be PISSED! Why is this taking so damn long ?!?! RR is six years in on this, and quoting another 9 more years out.

    And another thing:

    “Unlike large scale Nuclear which are very bespoke”

    The money is in the absurd construction requirements demanded by government. It is size, not design, even bespoke, that costs.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Russia already has a type of SMR in operation since 2020, but it’s a modified nuclear submarine system on a floating barge, providing electricity to a remote coastal town/region.

    An SMR first
    The world’s first advanced SMR was connected to the grid in 2019 and started commercial operation in May 2020.

    Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power plant, located just off Russia’s Arctic coast, houses two 35 MW(e) KLT40S SMR units that are now generating enough energy to power a city of about 100 000 people. The plant also has a heat capacity of 50 gigacalories per hour, and it is used for seawater desalination, producing up to 240 000 cubic metres of fresh drinking water per day.

    “With the help of small nuclear reactors, the Arctic can achieve net zero emissions as early as 2040,” said Anton Moskvin, Vice President for Marketing and Business Development at Rusatom Overseas.

  13. oldbrew says:

    At 4-5 years build time they’d have to be starting work by about 2025 to deliver in 2030.
    – – –
    The group, UK SMR Consortium, has finalised the design concept for a low-cost “small modular reactor” (SMR) and is now preparing to put it before UK regulators – a process that could take four years.

  14. Stuart Brown says:

    Gamecock, the cost in the article is stated as £2000m each? But, like you I get peeved by people talking about SMRs as though they were sitting on a shelf somewhere and just needed someone with a large cheque book to step up. Particularly liquid thorium salt fuelled powerpoint reactors. And, yes, RR have been banging on about this design for ages.

    But, this design is a PWR and RR do actually have some experience of building real nukes, unlike nearly every other company pushing SMRs. I wouldn’t bet against their standardised design even though we Brits took the American SNUPPS (Standardized Nuclear Unit Power Plant System) design – and changed it all about and then built only one. Shaking my head, I’m afraid my compatriots have form. We have something like 45 power reactors in the UK, two thirds of them now permanently shut down and hardly two of them identical.

    On the other hand, the approval process for the more or less traditional French EPR design being built at Hinkley Point, and possibly at Sizewell, took almost 6 years. Approval for the Westinghouse AP1000 took 10, for whatever use that was. RR haven’t even applied yet.

  15. Stuart Brown says:

    Off topic a bit, sorry, but what we won’t be installing by 2030:

    “So fusion researchers are developing a fusion concept that stands no hope of being economically acceptable, running on a fuel that does not exist in adequate quantities.”

    Written by a couple of blokes who look as though they might know what they are talking about.

  16. Phil Salmon says:

    Thanks Roger for keeping an eye on this story – it’s an extremely important one.

  17. Graeme No.3 says:

    The current policy of the UK Government will reduce the country to dependence on Russian gas, so why not adopt the Russian SMRs as well. At least they have been built and are working?

  18. tomo says:

    Before SMRs can be rolled out we need to euthanise the careers of a host of asinine quangocrats and decimate / apply a purgative to the constipated bureaucracy who’ve been parasitising the nuclear power business.

    Maybe we should just buy Russian barges and hook them up to the offshore supply cables the windmill wa***rs have conveniently laid?

  19. oldbrew says:

    Graeme — re. ‘why not adopt the Russian SMRs as well. At least they have been built and are working?’

    One has been built, but the output is quite small – a fraction of the proposed RR design. The target market seems to be remote/isolated regions with no power infrastructure. Could be quite cheap though 😉

    On current estimates the RR design would produce 6-7 times the power of the Russian one, but the cost would be a lot less than 6-7 times greater. Of course estimates often get exceeded.

  20. AC Osborn says:

    The only thing to compare the cost with is the waste of space Windmills and Solar panels.

  21. oldbrew says:

    GWPF launches ‘workable alternative to Net Zero’
    Date: 18/05/21 Global Warming Policy Forum

    Current Net Zero plans and roadmaps branded ‘utopian and unsustainable’
    – – –
    Fine, as long as no-one expects it to make any difference to the weather. Net zero won’t/wouldn’t, either.

  22. Phil Salmon says:

    The Rolls Royce SMR is not that small – now at 470 MW. Bigger reactors are generally more efficient. If RR can achieve modularity with this power level that could be a winning combination.

  23. Bill Treuren says:

    one little point 500Mw reactor will not power 1 million homes maybe a quarter of that.

  24. Stuart Brown says:

    Ah, Bill, the British Standard Home? According to the government it’s 3,800kWh/yr. 470,000kW*24*365*95% availability = 3,911,340,000kWh/yr
    1,029,300 homes. Voila, if my guess at 95% availability is right.

    But not if we are all cooking our Sunday evening roast in electric ovens in mid-winter, shivering over the paltry output of our iced up heat pumps while charging our Nissan Leafs for Mondays commute, no.

    But wind and solar produce lots of leccy on average too, so that’s OK then. What would be interesting to know is if these reactors are capable of load following and cheap enough to compete with gas peaking plant, because we might have to rely on them to do just that! We would need over 200 of them on a windless winter evening in our all electric future. Hmm.

  25. oldbrew says:

    Nuclear power ‘helps stabilise a grid more and more dependent on renewables’

    Sky News host Andrew Bolt has spoken to Rolls Royce SMR Consortium CEO Tom Samson about affordable, small modular nuclear reactors as a solution to reducing emissions.
    – – –
    Or much more biomass will be needed?