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Small Nuclear Reactors Set to Begin Operation in UK by 2029

28 Jan 2020

A UK-based consortium led by Rolls-Royce aims to have its first small modular reactor (SMR) generating nuclear power for the national grid by 2029.

The factory-built reactors are being designed to be much more compact than traditional nuclear power stations, and will produce electricity more cheaply due to the modular nature of the design, owing to economies of scale in their production.

It is hoped that SMRs will play a vital role in bringing the UK’s energy industry to net zero carbon emissions alongside larger sites like Hinkley Point C and renewables.

The consortium (which includes Rolls-Royce, Assystem, SNC Lavalin/Atkins, Wood, Arup, Laing O’Rourke, BAM Nuttall, Siemens, National Nuclear Laboratory and Nuclear AMRC) anticipates 10-15 sites across the UK in the long term, with each reactor capable of generating around 400MWe – enough to power a city the size of Leeds.

Previously the consortium had been aiming to have a working model in the 2030s, so the new target of 2029 is a big signal of confidence in the project and the technology.

Image: Rolls-Royce SMR

Source: New Civil Engineer (2020) "Plan for small nuclear reactors in UK this decade" (https://www.newcivilengineer.com/latest/plan-for-small-nuclear-reactors-in-uk-this-decade-28-01-2020/) 28/1/2020

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