Rolls-Royce angling as medium term solution to UK power crisis
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.
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. SMRs could be made in factories and assembled on site, speeding up work. I’d be disappointed if using SMRs we couldn’t generate power at least a fifth cheaper.”
Rolls has submitted detailed designs to the Government for SMRs capable of generating 220 MW, that could be doubled up to 440 megawatts on plants covering 10 football fields, a 10th of the size of a traditional nuclear power station.
Mr Stein added that with financial backing from government to seed development and political and regulatory support, the company could have the first SMR generating power in 10 years for £1.25bn. Costs would fall as more were produced.
He said Britain could potentially take a global lead in the SMR market which could be worth £400bn.
Britain’s energy policy seems a bit like that oil tanker which takes the length of the English Channel to turn around.
Given that we are already within a gnat’s of meeting the EU 2030 target of reducing GHG emissions by 40%, would it not be sensible to place a moratorium on subsidies for all new wind/solar, cancel Hinkley and encourage the market to bring forward new conventional thermal capacity, while we give time for new technologies such as SMRs to prove themselves?
Or is that too much like commonsense?