A new consortium led by Rolls-Royce says it will create 6,000 regional jobs over the next five years after revealing plans to build 16 mini nuclear power stations.
The UK SMR consortium says it wants to build the small scale facilities over the next 20 years in an effort to help secure the UK’s net zero commitments affordably, revitalise its regional industrial base and secure exports of at least £250bn.
Up to 80% (by value) of the power station components will be made in factories in the Midlands and North of England, before being transported to existing nuclear sites around the country for rapid assembly inside weatherproof canopies.
Rolls-Royce has a key plant at Barnoldswick, in Lancashire, where it is currently in dispute with unions over plans to axe 350 jobs.
In August, Rolls-Royce announced it would offshore production of its Trent Engine blades, which are made at Barnoldswick, to a factory in Singapore.
As well as a further 34,000 long-term jobs by the mid-2030s, mostly high value manufacturing rolls, Rolls says the power stations will also provide low carbon energy to produce net zero synthetic aviation fuels and hydrogen, supporting the UK Government’s Net Zero ambition and the wider decarbonisation of transport.
Tom Samson, interim chief Executive of the UK SMR Consortium, said: “We have developed a manufacturing and assembly process that will make reliable, low carbon nuclear power affordable, deliverable and investable.
“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, and by using proven nuclear technology alongside standardised and simplified components, we make it much more cheaply.
“Our consortium combines decades of nuclear experience and pioneering world-class manufacturing expertise. We represent the strength that UK industry has to offer in our fight against climate change.”
The UK SMR consortium is comprised of Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Rolls-Royce and TWI.
Each compact nuclear power station will provide 440MW of electricity, enough low carbon power for a city of 450,000 homes for 60 years. The first unit will be operational within 10 years of the first order, with the factories able to produce two units per year, thereafter.
Doubling or trebling the number of factories would allow more power stations to be made more quickly to meet additional UK and international demand, says Rolls.
The news is particularly welcome for the manufacturer which has suffered badly at the hands of the aviation industry collapse. Earlier this year, Rolls said it would be cutting around 3,000 UK jobs in order to safeguard its future.
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