The UK government is said to be considering a £2 billion investment in Small Modular Reactors (SMR) which would blend atomic energy with renewable sources. If approved, the plans would see the government joining a consortium involving companies such as Rolls Royce, Laing O’Rourke and Atkins amongst others. The consortium hopes to build up to 16 SMR by 2050. The investment by the UK government would kickstart the initial programme and could see tax-payers gaining an equity stake in the programme.
In a recent speech to The Conservative Party, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he wants the Uk to be a “world leader in a low-cost, clean powered generation”. He then went on to add “Imagine that future with high-skilled, green-collar jobs in wind, in solar, in nuclear, in hydrogen and in carbon capture and storage”. The government has previously said that it is committed to using nuclear power when it is generated by low carbon emission methods.
As part of the plans which are currently being discussed, Small Modular Reactors would be built on an assembly line before being moved to their final location. The first SMR is expected to cost over £2 billion to build and there are hopes to have it online by 2029 with each unit having a life expectancy of up to 60 years.
Designs are expected to be finalised for the SMR by early next year, when the consortium hopes to launch the 4-year licensing process and begin recruiting workers. When complete, the programme could employ up to 40,000 people.
A final decision regarding the government’s involvement in the scheme is reliant on the Treasury’s multi-year spending review which is due in December.