‘Mini-reactors could decarbonise more cheaply’

  Small-scale nuclear reactors are needed for the UK to decarbonise affordably and within a suitable timeframe. That’s according to David Orr, Senior Vice President for Nuclear Rolls Royce, who […]

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By Jonny Bairstow
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Small-scale nuclear reactors are needed for the UK to decarbonise affordably and within a suitable timeframe.

That’s according to David Orr, Senior Vice President for Nuclear Rolls Royce, who says small modular reactors (SMRs) would be better suited than large-scale nuclear power stations in providing baseload capacity as large volumes of intermittent renewables come onto the grid.

He suggested the modular construction of SMRs meant they could be deployed more cheaply and quickly than building larger, more bespoke units and equipment.

He said this significantly reduced the costs involved, dropping the average price tag of a plant from £9 billion to just £2 billion.

He added: “We need to change the paradigms with the large infrastructure programmes and to get them more affordable, to get the cost of nuclear electricity down and so what we have to do is take a huge amount off-site, modularise and reduce the time on site.”

Mr Orr suggested although it would take until around 2030 to put SMRs into operation, assuming the government approves their go-ahead, they could provide a number of benefits in a post-Brexit landscape.

This would include boosting security of energy supply, creating an export market worth between £250 billion to £400 billion and providing around 15,000 long term jobs.

At the Conservative Party Conference we also spoke to Energy Minister Claire Perry, who believes the UK’s Industrial Strategy must focus on boosting and protecting the country’s rapid green growth progress.