European countries have been scrambling to end their reliance on Russian gas since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24. Aside from exposing the EU’s dependence on Moscow’s energy exports, the war also aggravated an already crippling energy crisis as the wholesale costs of oil and gas skyrocketed.
In a bid to slash electricity bills and boost energy security, European countries have shifted their focus onto renewable energy like wind power and nuclear.
And Rolls-Royce’s SMRs have been tipped to play a critical role, too.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “While the technology doesn’t quite exist yet, SMRs could be a huge opportunity for the UK as we work to ensure greater energy independence.
“These cheap and quick to build mini reactors could bring clean, homegrown electricity to people’s homes whilst reducing our exposure to expensive gas prices and cutting foreign imports.”
In the Prime Minister’s energy security strategy that was unveiled last month, the Government announced that it is investing £210million to help develop the innovative new technology, which is said to be much cheaper and easier to deploy than traditional nuclear power stations.
These SMRs, which are approximately the size of two football pitches, can reportedly power around half a million homes, equivalent to a city the size of Leeds.
This puts the Rolls-Royce reactor’s estimated energy output at roughly a quarter of the larger traditional nuclear reactors like the upcoming Hinkley Point C.
Mr Kwarteng continued: “Coupled with massive amounts of offshore wind and solar, we are absolutely ready to turn the UK into a major clean energy exporter in the coming decades, which would be a huge reversal of fortunes.
“By supporting the early development of the Rolls Royce SMR technology, not only could we maximise British-made materials, create new intellectual property and reinvigorate local supply chains, but also position our country as a major exporter of nuclear technology with a UK stamp.
“We are determined to harness British engineering know-how to deploy more home-grown, affordable clean energy in this country, and help our European friends end their dependency on Russian oil and gas – small modular reactors could do just that.”
Rolls-Royce is looking to develop a reactor that can be easily mass-produced in factories, which will make the technology dramatically cheaper and more flexible.
In the Government’s Energy Security Strategy, the UK has pushed hard for nuclear energy, with a goal of generating 24 Gigawatts by 2050, which would account for 25 percent of the projected electricity demand.
Source: Tech Register