Fascinating technology

UK backs new small nuclear tech with £ 210million


  • Government commits £ 210million to develop small modular reactors in UK, with private investment
  • new nuclear essential to boosting energy security as we reduce Britain’s dependence on volatile fossil fuels
  • Kwarteng: “This is a unique opportunity for the UK to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before and to achieve greater energy independence. “

Next steps in the development of the design of one of the world’s first small modular reactors (SMR) was backed by new government funding of £ 210million for Rolls-Royce SMR, the UK government announced today (Tuesday 9 November 2021) implementing the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan and creating good, highly skilled jobs.

Accompanied by private sector funding of over £ 250million, today’s investment will advance Phase 2 of the low-cost nuclear project to further develop SMR design and take it through regulatory processes to assess the suitability of a potential UK deployment.

New nuclear has a crucial role to play in providing reliable, affordable and low-carbon energy as Britain strives to reduce its reliance on volatile fossil fuels and its exposure to global price spikes some gas.

SMR have the potential to be less expensive to build than traditional nuclear power plants due to their smaller size. The modular nature of the components provides the ability for parts to be produced in dedicated factories and shipped by road to the site, reducing construction time and costs. Rolls Royce SMR estimate that each small modular reactor could be able to power 1 million homes – the equivalent of a city the size of Leeds.

Today’s news comes as Parliament considers the Nuclear Energy Financing Bill that establishes a new funding model for nuclear projects, known as the Regulated Asset Base (RAB). This would attract a wider range of private investment into these projects, reducing construction costs, consumer energy bills and Britain’s dependence on foreign developers for funding.

The UK is investing millions in the nuclear industry, including up to £ 1.7bn to bring at least one large-scale nuclear project to a final investment decision, and a new nuclear activation fund. £ 120million nuclear future to provide targeted support to other nuclear projects as part of the Net Zero strategy.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said:

This is a unique opportunity for the UK to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before and to achieve greater energy independence.

Small modular reactors offer exciting opportunities to cut costs and build faster, ensuring that we can bring clean electricity to homes and further reduce our already declining use of volatile fossil fuels.

By working with Rolls Royce, we are proud to support the largest engineering collaboration the UK has ever seen – uniting some of the most respected and innovative organizations on the planet. Not only can we maximize UK content, create new intellectual property and revitalize supply chains, but also position our country as a world leader in innovative nuclear technologies that we can potentially export elsewhere.

By harnessing British engineering and ingenuity, we can double our plan to deploy local and affordable clean energy in this country.

Rolls Royce Managing Director Warren East said:

The SMR is one of the ways Rolls-Royce is responding to 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 that can deliver competitive and scalable net zero power for multiple applications, from grid power and industrial power generation to manufacturing hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

The company could create up to 40,000 jobs through deployment in the UK and growth driven by exports. As majority shareholder of Rolls-Royce SMR, we will continue to support its path to a successful deployment.

Today’s £ 210million grant follows £ 18million invested in November 2019, which has already enabled significant development of their initial design as part of the first phase of the low-cost nuclear project .

Today’s investment is coming COP26 continues to focus on science and innovation.

A fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, Dame Sue Ion, said:

This is extremely welcome news and demonstrates the potential of advanced nuclear power, which could be safely extended to improve the overall efficiency of our energy system, with stable and cheaper low carbon energy. to help achieve the UK’s net zero goal.

This welcome recognition of the innovative approach taken by the team led by Rolls Royce gives the UK a real chance to regain its place at the top of nuclear power internationally and to create a new manufacturing base for production. of peak electricity, thus helping to stimulate our economy. and our export potential.

This £ 210million government contribution was awarded as part of UK Research and Innovation’s Low Cost Nuclear Challenge.

Notes to Editors

  • Read details of the government’s previous £ 18million investment in Rolls-Royce SMRplans for new small nuclear reactors
  • in May, the UK government declared the generic design assessment (GDA) open to advanced nuclear technologies – including SMR – for the first time. The process allows independent nuclear regulators in the UK to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs. Rolls Royce SMR have expressed their intention to enter the GDA process shortly
  • Generic Design Assessment (GDA) is a process carried out by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) (the Nuclear Regulators) to assess the safety, security and environmental protection aspects of a nuclear reactor intended for to be deployed in Great Britain. This is an initial, non-site specific (hence generic) assessment of a design which aims to provide assurance that it is capable of being deployed in the UK. This is separate from the planning processes that should be completed for any new nuclear project.
  • this program will support the objectives, set out in the Net Zero strategy, of maintaining the options and informing any potential investment decisions during the next legislature

How the government is reviving our nuclear industry:

  • in the expenditure review, we announced up to £ 1.7bn in direct government funding to enable at least one large-scale nuclear project at the point of FID by the end of this legislature
  • a new £ 120million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund will provide targeted support to remove barriers to entry. This fund will be part of the measures aimed at informing investment decisions during the next legislature on other nuclear projects
  • the nuclear energy (financing) bill will introduce a regulated asset base (RAB) as an option to finance future nuclear projects. A RAB is a proven method, typically used in the UK, to finance large-scale infrastructure assets such as water, gas and electricity networks
  • the £ 210 million SMR the funding is part of the £ 385million advanced nuclear fund – announced last year in the prime minister’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. We are funding a SMR design and advance plans for an advanced modular reactor demonstrator in the early 2030s


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