It’s election season (again) in the United Kingdom, and there is consensus among the main political parties that the UK should be a zero-carbon nation, although the means and timing to achieve that goal is hotly debated. Labour is shooting for zero-carbon by 2030, while the conservatives are aiming for 2050. In all parties there are people who see that to achieve it will be necessary to use nuclear power to achieve that goal.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a funding and research agency which assigns research funding from the UK government, confirmed this week that it has delivered £18m to a consortium led by Rolls-Royce to develop small-scale nuclear fission reactors that can be used to generate electricity carbon-free.
Here’s an announcement from UKRI
Standardised Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) promise to provide the UK a versatile option that can be built quickly as we move towards a net-zero economy.
The Low-cost nuclear challenge proposed by a Rolls-Royce led consortium aims to develop a Small Modular Reactor designed and manufactured in the UK capable of producing cost effective low carbon electricity and creating significant export opportunities for UK businesses.
An initial £36 million joint public and private investment, with £18m of the investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, will enable the consortium to further develop their design.
This video provides an artistic conception of the small modular reactors:
Rolls Royce believes it can a SMR could deliver power at a cost of £60 per megawatt-hour, and states that it will take five years from the beginning of building to the first delivery of electricity.