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UK Government Funding SMR Delivery to Meet Net Zero

Tue, 09 November, 2021

TWI has been working alongside Rolls Royce in the development of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business, which has received a boost for the delivery of the next generation of low cost, low carbon nuclear power technology.

The work is being granted £210 million of UK Research and Innovation funding, as announced by the Prime Minister as part of the Government’s ‘Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.’

This will be joined by further investment to create a range of parallel delivery activities, including entry to the UK Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and the identification of sites for the factories that will manufacture the modules that enable the on-site assembly of the power plants.

Rolls-Royce SMR is already engaging with export customers across many continents who can use this technology to meet their own net zero commitments as discussions continue with the UK Government to identify delivery models to facilitate long-term investment in this vital, net-zero enabling technology.

The Rolls-Royce SMR is using proven nuclear technology, coupled with unique factory-made module manufacturing and an on-site assembly system, harnessing decades of British engineering, design and manufacturing knowhow.

TWI Technology Director, Mike Russell said, “Today’s announcement of £210m of support from UK government for the Rolls-Royce SMR programme is highly encouraging. Matched by £250m of private investment, this commitment will accelerate the engineering and approval of the UK’s next generation of low cost nuclear power. This work is vital to our low carbon energy ambitions and our domestic supply needs, as well as opening up new export opportunities. TWI has been pleased to be a partner in phase one of the project, and will continue to support the Rolls-Royce led consortium as we move into the next stage of this important programme.”

Bringing together the best of UK industry to ensure a decarbonisation solution that will be available to the UK grid in the early 2030s, the potential for this to be a leading global export for the UK is unprecedented.

Nine-tenths of each Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80% could be delivered by a UK supply chain, creating a unique offering in energy infrastructure in the UK.

TWI’s Business Group Manager for Welding and Joining, Robert Scudamore said, “This is great news for the UK nuclear industry and for national and international net zero aspirations. This will be a catalyst for the UK skills and capabilities needed for nuclear power to secure and underpin future energy supply.”

Much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the North of the UK, where there is significant existing nuclear expertise

A single Rolls-Royce SMR power station will occupy the footprint of two football pitches and power approximately one million homes. It can support both on-grid electricity and a range of off-grid clean energy solutions, enabling the decarbonisation of industrial processes and the production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and green hydrogen, to support the energy transition in the wider heat and transportation sectors.

Also speaking on the project, Paul Woollin, TWI’s Research Director said, “The Rolls Royce SMR project provides the perfect platform for TWI to use our core competence in weld design for modular manufacture in support of a major UK initiative to address global climate change. I look forward to working with TWI colleagues and our partners in the programme to ensure we successfully deliver a world leading product.”

Warren East, Rolls-Royce CEO said, “The SMR programme is one of the ways that Rolls-Royce is meeting the need to ensure the UK continues to develop innovative ways to tackle the global threat of climate change. With the Rolls-Royce SMR technology, we have developed a clean energy solution which can deliver cost competitive and scalable net zero power for multiple applications from grid and industrial electricity production to hydrogen and synthetic fuel manufacturing. The business could create up to 40,000 jobs, through UK deployment and export enabled growth. As a major shareholder in Rolls-Royce SMR, we will continue to support its path to successful deployment.”

Speaking for the UK Government, Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the UK to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before and ensure greater energy independence. Small Modular Reactors offer exciting opportunities to cut costs and build more quickly, ensuring we can bring clean electricity to people’s homes and cut our already-dwindling use of volatile fossil fuels even further. In working with Rolls-Royce, we are proud to back the largest engineering collaboration the UK has ever seen - uniting some of the most respected and innovating organisations on the planet. Not only can we maximise British content, create new intellectual property and reinvigorate supply chains, but also position our country as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies we can potentially export elsewhere. By harnessing British engineering and ingenuity, we can double down on our plan to deploy more home-grown, affordable clean energy in this country.”

You can find out more information about TWI’s work in the nuclear sector here:

You can also find out more about SMRs here.

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