UK mini nuclear stations would create 6,000 jobs – Rolls-Royce

Agence France-Presse

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A consortium headed by engineering giant Rolls-Royce wants to build 16 small modular reactor power stations in the UK over the next two decades

Plans to build mini nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom to reduce the country’s carbon emissions would create 6,000 jobs over 5 years, project head Rolls-Royce said Wednesday, November 11.

A consortium headed by engineering giant Rolls-Royce wants to build 16 small modular reactor (SMR) power stations over the next two decades that it says are much cheaper and safer than traditional installations.

The consortium has won design funding from the government which must decide on whether the project should proceed.

“The UK SMR consortium, led by Rolls-Royce, has announced it expects to create 6,000 regional UK jobs within the next 5 years, if the UK government makes a clear commitment” to building the reactors, a statement said.

The jobs total could hit 40,000 by 2035, it added.

“We have developed a manufacturing and assembly process that will make reliable, low carbon nuclear power affordable, deliverable, and investable,” Tom Samson, interim chief executive officer of the UK SMR Consortium, said in Wednesday’s statement.

“By creating a factory-built power station that rolls off the assembly line we have radically reduced many construction risks associated with new nuclear power stations.”

The consortium, comprising companies specialized in the nuclear and manufacturing industries, said each compact nuclear station would provide enough electricity to power 450,000 homes for 60 years. 

The first unit would be operational within a decade of the first order, and the consortium also hopes to sign contracts abroad.

Britain’s nuclear power plants built in the last century have either closed or are coming to the end of their lifespan. 

But the country wants to maintain the 20% of electricity it generates from nuclear power to help meet its pledge to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and tackle climate change.

The Financial Times on Tuesday, November 10, said a US consortium led by engineering giant Bechtel is holding talks with the UK government to revive a multibillion-pound nuclear plant project in Wales.

Meanwhile Rolls-Royce, known mainly for its aircraft engines and luxury automobiles, has suffered huge financial losses as the coronavirus pandemic hammers the aviation sector.

Under an overhaul announced in May, Rolls is slashing 9,000 jobs, with more than half going this year.

Last month, it launched plans to shore up its finances by up to £5 billion ($6.5 billion, 5.5 billion euros). – Rappler.com

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