Mini nukes to get boost from Government funding 

Posted: September 27, 2021 by oldbrew in Energy, government, net zero, Nuclear power


Small modular reactor [credit: ANS Nuclear Cafe]

Plan or knee-jerk reaction to current events? At least it sounds better than the usual vacuous cries of ‘build more renewables’ as a viable route to future electricity supplies.
– – –
The Government is considering ploughing more cash into mini nuclear reactors in an attempt to prevent further energy crises as Britain transitions to net-zero carbon emissions, reports the Telegraph (via VNExplorer).

Rolls-Royce could be in line for extra support for its small modular reactors as the current energy price crunch heightens the political focus on bolstering the security of the nation’s long-term electricity supply.

The manufacturing titan secured £210m of backing from private investors for the project over the summer, allowing it to unlock matched funding from the Government.

But £385m was earmarked for research and development support last year, and talks are still ongoing as to how much the consortium will get, raising the possibility of the funds being more than matched by the state.

Sources close to the decision noted that “Rolls-Royce is ahead of the game in terms of tech,” and its status as a British company will also make it attractive to ministers.

This stage of the project will see the SMRs designed and assessed by regulators.

The next step is to get the factory to create the reactors designed and built. It is understood that the industry hopes for funds in next month’s spending review to support that stage of the project.

Continued here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Another Telegraph article today (‘A renewables push will not keep us warm this winter’) says:

    There is a quick zero-cost solution that would enable North Sea gas producers to supply additional capacity
    . . .
    The UK has some of the tightest specifications for gas in Western Europe – it has to be a very high “calorific” standard. If we put our regulations on the same level as other European countries, we could pump far more gas into the UK system.

    Such a change has already undergone technical review by the Health and Safety Executive as part of its review of the current standards and could be enacted immediately, helping to alleviate pressure on both gas supply and price this winter.

    In the longer term, the revised specifications could unlock 0.5 trillion cubic feet of gas from the southern North Sea, enough to heat more than 12 million UK homes for a whole year.

  2. ilma630 says:

    IMHO, the govt also needs to put funding into continued research for development & commercialisation of LFTR, considering thorium is such an abundant material, and the molten salt process is fundamentally safer.

  3. oldbrew says:

    10 September 2021
    China prepares to test thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor

    If China’s experimental reactor is a success it could lead to commercialization and help the nation meet its climate goals.
    – – –
    Thorium has its critics, so no guarantee of success.

  4. Gamecock says:

    “Thorium has its critics”

    You called?

    “the govt also needs to put funding into continued research for development & commercialisation of LFTR”

    Why the government? If it’s such a good idea, why does government need to interfere?

    After 60 years, what break through is expected?

    “considering thorium is such an abundant material”

    What is that supposed to mean? Nickel-iron is abundant, too.

    “the molten salt process is fundamentally safer.”

    Then why bring up thorium? Thorium breeding and MSR are TWO different subjects.

    What problem is thorium supposed to solve? The reason it was considered 60 years ago WAS solved long ago. It’s now only the subject of pop science books and assorted crackpots.

  5. oldbrew says:

    This is recent nuclear news, but not to do with SMRs.

    Why China is developing a game-changing thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor
    Issued on: 12/09/2021

    China is poised to test a thorium-powered nuclear reactor in September, the world’s first since 1969. The theory is that this new molten-salt technology will be “safer” and “greener” than regular uranium reactors, and so could help Beijing meet its climate goals. Yet is the country’s investment in this also geostrategic?
    . . .
    The feasibility of molten-salt reactors is also questionable as it creates further technical problems. “At very high temperatures, the salt can corrode the reactor’s structures, which need to be protected in some manner”.
    – – –
    It could take years to find out how bad the corrosion problem is, or isn’t.

  6. Phil Salmon says:

    Good to hear the Rolls Royce SMR program advancing, makes excellent sense for the U.K. and further for an export market. The U.K. needs to make its own nuclear reactors for future energy security and to be a serious country in relation to technology and engineering.

  7. pameladragon says:

    Finally some good news about energy! It would take a catastrophe to open eyes to the looming potential of a cold winter with the population shivering in the dark. When you are dependent on wind for your electricity, a wind-less stretch of time does qualify as a catastrophe!

  8. JB says:

    Absorption refrigeration (ammonia) is corrosive too (and much more dangerous than freon in failure mode), yet it has been made to work over the years. I’ve not heard of any energy technology that is free of problems. Like batteries. Like coal. Material science is an ongoing process, and it would be well to remember that even the modular nuclear reactor could not have made its appearance without 60 years of R&D.

  9. tomo says:

    Thorium molten salt reactors need to get to be trendy big budget items in western academia…

    When I am god-emperor all renewables constraint payments will be made direct to LFTR research.

    The absurd fake market mechanisms that indulge the renewables crews financially and at the same time cripple anything deemed “haram” need to be dismantled.

  10. Curious George says:

    Molten salt problems caused the ultimate failure of a Concentrated Solar Power plant Crescent Dunes, Nevada some three years ago. And that salt was not radioactive.

  11. Roger,

    WOW! Something sensible from a Western Government! Each Region needs adequate power generation to be independent from other regions so that total grid failures can be prevented! Large, Complicated, Grids cannot be protected from natural disasters, enemy attacks, foreign or domestic terrorists or even Hacker Attacks!

    Alex Pope

    On Mon, Sep 27, 2021 at 4:12 AM Tallbloke’s Talkshop wrote:

    > oldbrew posted: “Plan or knee-jerk reaction to current events? At least it > sounds better than the usual vacuous cries of ‘build more renewables’ as a > viable route to future electricity supplies. – – – The Government is > considering ploughing more cash into mini nuclear rea” >

  12. Gamecock says:

    BWTM: RR is 5 years into this project. Announcement of funding makes no sense; it is a symptom of TROUBLE.

  13. Gamecock says:

    I’m still waiting. What problem is thorium supposed to fix ???


    It is nonsense.

  14. oldbrew says:

    Energy panic ushers in ‘new nuclear age’
    The Sunday Times

    In an energy crisis meeting on Friday morning the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, made clear that he thought nuclear facilities should play a more prominent role in the UK’s future energy policy. A source close to Sunak said: ‘His general view is that we should have been doing this ten years ago, when it was cheaper, but we can’t rely on wind and solar power.’
    – – –
    Smelling the coffee at last? Queuing at filling stations is annoying, but power cuts would be *really* annoying.

  15. oldbrew says:

    US lures Eastern Europe with nuclear power, $23tln clean energy market
    Sep 23, 2021

    “Nuclear technology is clean baseload power, and we want to make sure that those countries that want access to nuclear can have it”.
    – – –
    So anti-nuclear Germany and Austria will be even more surrounded by nuclear power than now.

  16. Stephen Richards says:

    They just don’t know what to do, do they? Windmills, solar panels, tidal. The only thing that solves most of the problems is nuclear. Either LTSR or fission. Just get on with it.

  17. tomo says:

    Curious George / Gamecock

    Molten salt reactors be like fracking in the UK – it’s supposed to work but it can’t be tried / tested ‘coz reasons.

    My recollection of write-ups on the Crescent Dunes / Tonopah solar is that one of the challenges was the temperature excursions outside what the materials used were known to tolerate – there’s. It always struck me that they were subsidy first, PR second and then engineering bringing up the rear… Lots of lobbyists and “financial engineering”.

    I’m not fixated on Thorium – but I do feel that the MSR crew should be given access to at least the levels of funding enjoyed by assorted renewbabble cucumbersunbeam outfits.

    MSRs burning / reducing waste from trad Uranium sites looks superficially usefiul?

  18. tomo says:

    The incumbent nuclear bureaucrats are going to fight to inspect every component of every site individually rather than accept the production testing at the factory… The regulatory framework hasn’t moved with reactor design and the change to series production – there is a rearguard action going on.

    I’ll laugh if the Wushinz show up with floating nukes pre-wired to plug into offshore wind farm export cables…. Chinese SMR designs are accumulating international documents …

    – nobody’s mentioning competitive tenders…

  19. tomo says:

    The Crescent Dunes solar crew were more ambitious than I remembered …

    Project Sandstone

    – I see some folk involved are now on the Biden crew.

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