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By Isabel Kua
(Reuters) - A Rolls-Royce design for a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) will likely receive UK regulatory approval by mid-2024 and be able to produce grid power by 2029, Paul Stein, chairman of Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactors, told Reuters.
The British government asked its nuclear regulator to start the approval process in March, having backed Rolls-Royce's $546 million funding round in November to develop the country's first SMR reactor.
Policymakers hope SMRs will help cut dependence on fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions.
Speaking to Reuters in an interview conducted virtually, Stein said the regulatory "process has been kicked off, and will likely be complete in the middle of 2024.
"We are trying to work with the UK Government, and others to get going now placing orders, so we can get power on grid by 2029."
In the meantime, Rolls-Royce will start manufacturing parts of the design that are most unlikely to change, Stein added.
Each 470 megawatt (MW) SMR unit costs 1.8 billion pounds ($2.34 billion) and would be built on a 10-acre site, the size of around 10 football fields.
Unlike traditional reactors, SMRs are cheaper and quicker to build and can also be deployed on ships and aircraft. Their "modular" format means they can be shipped by container from the factory and installed relatively quickly on any proposed site.
($1 = 0.7676 pounds)
(Reporting by Isabel Kua and Florence Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)