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The United Kingdom could soon give Rolls Royce and a consortium of companies the go-ahead to build “mini” nuclear power plants, according to a new report by The Telegraph.
London’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is due to issue a study on the matter soon, and industry sources said the Rolls Royce consortium’s plan should succeed over its competitor to win the government’s approval.
A spokesman for the BEIS told The Telegraph: “We are currently considering next steps for the SMR programme and we will communicate these in due course.”
Small nuclear reactors (SMRs) are far cheaper to build than their full-sized counterparts. Funding for their development could be covered under the British government’s 250 million-pound pool to encourage “innovate nuclear technologies” that allow the nation to meet its anti-climate change targets.
“Rolls has been involved with this technology in the past and realised it is not designed with the energy utility in mind because it simply isn’t commercially investible,” a source from Whitehall said. “It also looks as if the Government has come to this view and is pursuing detailed talks with the Rolls-led SMR consortium.”
The United Kingdom represents a notable exception from the general Western European trend of not building any further nuclear reactors. The UK will phase out all its coal plants by 2025, yet in the meantime, in stark contrast with continental Europe, will add 14 GW new-generation nuclear capacity. London’s perseverance with nuclear energy (now around 20 percent of total electricity generation) does not impede the development of renewables in the UK, with wind energy expected to increase almost fivefold by 2025 from 5 GW to 23GW, and wave and tidal energy gradually breaking into the cost-effective zone. The UK is focused on getting rid of coal- and oil-powered energy and placing its bet on gas and nuclear instead, all the while developing its renewable energy sources where profitable.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…