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Rolls-Royce calls for formal funding talks over small nuclear plants

Ft.com Nathalie Thomas in Edinburgh and Sylvia Pfeifer in London, 23 Nov 22

Rolls-Royce has urged the UK government to enter formal negotiations over the funding for small nuclear reactors, which it hopes to build in England or Wales by the early part of next decade.

Tom Samson, head of the company’s small modular reactor business, told a committee of MPs on Wednesday that Britain would face an electricity crisis next decade if it did not push ahead with building more “baseload” power stations that offer a reliable [?] source of generation when weather-dependent renewables including wind and solar are not producing.

Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium that has designed a 470-megawatt [that’s LARGE !] small modular nuclear reactor, which could produce enough power for a city the size of Leeds and would be built in factories before being deployed at existing nuclear sites in England and Wales.

It wants the government to enter formal talks over potential funding models and how the technology could be deployed so it can start building factories. The first Rolls-Royce-designed SMR would cost £2.5bn, although the UK engineering company has argued the cost of each plant will drop to £2bn once it has a pipeline of orders.

……….. the first Rolls-Royce SMR would probably need a funding model underpinned by the government or bill payers.

The company has previously talked about models such as “contracts for difference”, which are used for technologies such as offshore wind and guarantee developers a set price for their output.

Alternatively, it has said it may consider a “regulated asset base” mechanism, whereby a surcharge is added to consumer energy bills long before any plant is operating to help finance schemes.

Samson warned the government it did not have the luxury of spending another two to three years talking about whether to build more nuclear capacity……………

Former prime minister Boris Johnson said while in office that he wanted up to 24 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by 2050 — up from just 5.9GW at present — but chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s recent Autumn Statement referred only to the 3.2GW Sizewell C nuclear project in Suffolk, about which the government is in negotiations with French state-backed energy group EDF. Opponents of nuclear argue that is expensive compared with other technologies.

……………. “The government is investing in these new technologies through the £385mn Advanced Nuclear Fund including £210mn towards the Rolls-Royce SMR programme,” a BEIS spokesperson said.  https://www.ft.com/content/21a54a90-1b51-4561-ba9e-c1677e0262ed

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November 24, 2022 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK

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