Rolls-Royce announced that following a successful equity raise, it has established the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business to bring forward and deliver at scale the next generation of low-cost, low-carbon nuclear power technology. (Earlier post.)

Rolls-Royce Group, BNF Resources UK Limited and Exelon Generation Limited will invest £195 million (US$264 million) across a period of around three years. The funding will enable the business to secure grant funding of (US$284 million) million from UK Research and Innovation funding, first announced by the UK Prime Minister in ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’.

The business, which will continue to seek further investment, will now proceed rapidly with a range of parallel delivery activities, including entry to the UK Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and identifying sites for the factories which will manufacture the modules that enable on-site assembly of the power plants.

Discussions will also continue with the UK Government on identifying the delivery models that will enable long-term investment in this net-zero enabling technology. Rolls-Royce SMR is also engaging with export customers across many continents who need this technology to meet their own net zero commitments.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the UK to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before and ensure greater energy independence. Small Modular Reactors offer exciting opportunities to cut costs and build more quickly, ensuring we can bring clean electricity to people’s homes and cut our already-dwindling use of volatile fossil fuels even further. In working with Rolls-Royce, we are proud to back the largest engineering collaboration the UK has ever seen—uniting some of the most respected and innovating organisations on the planet. Not only can we maximize British content, create new intellectual property and reinvigorate supply chains, but also position our country as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies we can potentially export elsewhere. By harnessing British engineering and ingenuity, we can double down on our plan to deploy more home-grown, affordable clean energy in this country.—UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

Rolls-Royce SMR is using proven nuclear technology, coupled with a unique factory-made module manufacturing and on-site assembly system, to harness decades of British engineering, design and manufacturing knowhow. It brings together the best of UK industry to ensure a decarbonization solution that will be available to the UK grid in the early 2030s. The potential for this to be a leading global export for the UK is “unprecedented”, according to Rolls-Royce.

Nine-tenths of an individual Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80% could be delivered by a UK supply chain—a unique offering in energy infrastructure in the UK. Much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the North of the UK, where there is significant existing nuclear expertise.

A Rolls-Royce SMR power station will have the capacity to generate 470 MW of low-carbon energy, equivalent to more than 150 onshore wind turbines. It will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years, helping to support the roll out of renewable generation, helping to overcome intermittency.

A single Rolls-Royce SMR power station will occupy the footprint of two football pitches and power approximately one million homes. It can support both on-grid electricity and a range of off-grid clean energy solutions, enabling the decarbonization of industrial processes and the production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and green hydrogen, to support the energy transition in the wider heat and transportation sectors.

Rolls-Royce has been a nuclear reactor plant designer since the start of the UK nuclear submarine program in the 1950s.

When fully operational the Rolls-Royce SMR business is forecast to create 40,000 regional UK jobs by 2050 and generate £52 billion (US$70 billion) in economic benefit.