MPs to review baby nuclear reactor plans as cheaper source of secure energy

Courtney Goldsmith
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Small modular reactors could help the UK plug a potential gap in the energy mix
Small modular reactors could help the UK plug a potential gap in the energy mix

A consortium developing small modular reactors is expected to urge the government to push forward with a plan to develop so-called baby reactors to secure the UK’s energy needs after the decommissioning of older nuclear power stations.

The government launched a competition to find the best value SMR reactor design for the UK in 2016, and this week a consortium led by Rolls-Royce will publish a report in Westminster which claims it can generate electricity at £60 per megawatt hour, which is two-thirds the price of recent large-scale nuclear plants.

The consortium, which also includes Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Nuvia, Laing O'Rourke and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, has been working to develop a baby reactor design and provide the technical, cost and economic analysis to give the government confidence in the programme’s delivery certainty.

The group’s modular concept is cheaper and more flexible than large-scale nuclear power plants, and each could produce 440 megawatts of electricity, which is enough power to supply a city the size of Leeds or charge up more than 62,000 electric cars.

A fleet of SMRs is hoped to help meet the UK’s energy and climate change challenges at a lower cost, while adding £100bn to the economy.

A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis), which is set to announce the final contenders for funding, said:

“We are currently considering next steps for the SMR programme and we will communicate these in due course.”

SMRs were included in a £250m government fund from 2015 to create innovative nuclear technologies.

Read more: Back baby reactors to drive forward the UK's nuclear: engineers

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