Sunday 8 January 2017 3:11 pm

Rolls-Royce launches partnership with engineering giants Amec Foster Wheeler, Nuvia and Arup to build fleet of mini nuclear reactors

FTSE 100-listed engineering giant Rolls-Royce has teamed up with a raft of British engineering groups to design and build a fleet of mini nuclear reactors. 

Amec Foster Wheeler, Nuvia and Arup will work with Rolls-Royce, together with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, in the effort to make small modular reactors (SMRs). 

The engineering partnership will build entire running power plants "capable of powering a city the size of Leeds from the ground up", Rolls-Royce has said, and once the initial design is licensed, parts can be made on factory production lines "relatively cheaply".

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"We are working with some of Britain's most experience civil engineering companies and nuclear research organisations to realise the huge potential of small modular reactors for the wider UK economy," a spokesperson for Rolls-Royce said.

"We share a common belief that a homegrown SMR programme can play a key role in strengthening the UK's energy mix and security, while creating valuable intellectual property, exports and jobs."

The baby reactors are intended to complement a large reactor programme, comprised of projects such as the £18bn Hinkley Point C plant. If successful, building SMRs in the UK will create up to 40,000 jobs and open up a £400bn export market.

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In the 2015 Autumn Statement, the government launched a £250m nuclear research programme to identify the best-value SMR design for the UK. Rolls-Royce has been vying for government backing in the initial bidding phase of a competition, announced last March, along with dozens of other companies.

The project, however, appears to have slowed, though many companies will be looking towards an industrial strategy green paper that is expected to be published later this month.

After a string of profit warnings, manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce said in November its huge cost-cutting drive is likely to help reset its finances.