The UK SMR consortium led by Rolls-Royce (RR.L) said it expects to create 6,000 jobs in the UK within the next five years, if the government “makes a clear commitment” that enables 16 small modular reactor power stations to be built over the next 20 years.
The government gave the coalition £18m ($24m) last year to design the small modular reactors. The consortium matched the funding and is now looking to secure a further £217m, which would also be matched by industry.
“The power stations will help secure the UK’s net zero commitments affordably, revitalise the UK’s regional industrial base and position the UK to secure exports of at least £250bn,” Rolls-Royce said in a statement.
Up to 80% of the power station components will be made in factories in the Midlands and North of England, before being transported to existing nuclear sites around the country for rapid assembly, it explained.
The power stations will also create a further 34,000 long-term jobs by the mid-2030s, mostly manufacturing roles, as well as supporting the government’s ambition around the wider decarbonisation of transport.
Tom Samson, interim CEO of the consortium, said this proposal “presents the UK with a domestic nuclear energy solution for the first time in a generation, with a product that is engineered, designed and manufactured in the UK. This creates a unique opportunity to revitalise the UK’s industrial base and paves the way for the future commercialisation of advanced reactor solutions, including fusion technology.”
Each station will provide 440MW of electricity, enough low carbon power for a city of 450,000 homes for 60 years.
The consortium also includes Assystem (ASY.PA), Atkins, the National Nuclear Laboratory and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
The group has inked two new agreements in the past week, with US power giant Exelon Generation and Czech Republic firm CEZ looking at how the reactors could be used in their power stations.
Samson added that the stations will help the UK create sustainable high value manufacturing jobs in areas most in need of economic activity.
The news comes at a crucial time for the UK as unemployment has risen at its fastest pace in more than a decade, with redundancies surging to a record high between July and September. caused by the pandemic.
It could also help revive the fortunes of Rolls, which is slashing 9,000 jobs to offset the hit from coronavirus.
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