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Rolls-Royce plans to install by 2029 mini nuclear reactors in the UK that would be built in factories and delivered in modules, the chief technology officer of Britain’s industrial technology manufacturer told the BBC.
“The trick is to have prefabricated parts where we use advanced digital welding methods and robotic assembly and then parts are shipped to site and bolted together,” Rolls-Royce’s chief technology officer Paul Stein told the BBC’s Today program.
For several years, Rolls-Royce has been leading a UK consortium for the so-called Small Modular Reactor (SMR) program to manufacture and deliver mini reactors. According to Rolls-Royce, the SMR design makes those reactors so compact that they can be transported by truck, train, or even barge.
Once fully developed, the so-called small modular reactors (SMRs) could be manufactured in factories and transported to site, the UK government said. SMRs are smaller than conventional nuclear power station reactors, with power outputs of around 300 MW or less.
In view of the enormous cost overruns of nuclear power plants recently, including the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK, mini reactors from Rolls-Royce that are much smaller and can be easily transported to the site could be a win for nuclear power in Britain.
Rolls-Royce says that “By building numerous versions of the same product in a controlled ‘production line’ environment, economies become deliverable, making each unit more affordable than a stand-alone bespoke major project.”
Critics say that the ‘assembly-line’ benefits may be overstated.
Moreover, critics of nuclear power say that the UK should continue to add more renewable power capacity and ditch nuclear energy.
Others, however, say that nuclear power will help the UK achieve its 2050 net zero emissions goal.
In June last year, the UK became the first major economy in the world to enshrine in a law its target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.