In pursuit of clean energy… Rolls-Royce builds 16 mini-nuclear plants in...

In pursuit of clean energy… Rolls-Royce builds 16 mini-nuclear plants in...
In pursuit of clean energy… Rolls-Royce builds 16 mini-nuclear plants in...
British jet-engine maker Rolls-Royce said on Tuesday it was forming a new company to build a series of smaller and cheaper nuclear reactors, as Britain looked for ways to cut carbon emissions and lower nuclear energy costs.

The company said that this type of reactor proposed by “Rolls-Royce” would cover about two football fields, or about a tenth of the area of ​​a conventional nuclear power plant.

These plants would generate about one-seventh less power than the giant nuclear facility being built at Hinckley Point in southwest England.

Britain is likely to face competition from France, which recently announced its small reactor programme, and the United States, where operators are working on similar concepts.

But Rolls-Royce has said it hopes to reduce construction costs to about 2 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) each, compared to 22.5 billion pounds for the Hinkley Point plant, with some of the savings coming from building a large number of plants and from making units that can then be assembled in obstetric sites.

The company hopes to build 16 of the plants, known as modular micro-reactors, and has said that each alone could power about a million homes.

The British government will contribute a £210 million grant to develop the plants, while Rolls-Royce and its partners will jointly invest £195 million over 3 years, including Exelon Generation, a US nuclear power company, and BNF Resources, a private company.

The government is looking for clean energy sources to replace aging British nuclear plants, although Rolls-Royce models are unlikely to be commissioned for at least a decade.

Rolls-Royce’s involvement in nuclear energy dates back to the 1950s, when it helped design British nuclear submarines.

Besides being a tool for achieving ambitious emissions targets, the government also views the mini-nuclear program as a way to deliver on its promise to create jobs in northern England, which is where Rolls-Royce has said a large part of the investment will be, and the government hopes to set up an export industry. To sell these stations to other countries.

However, Britain will likely face competition from France, which recently announced its own small reactor programme, and the United States, where operators are working on similar concepts. Last week, Nuscale Power, based in Portland, Oregon, announced an agreement to build small model reactors in Romania.

Despite the risks from accidents, nuclear power is attracting new interest in Europe and elsewhere as a tool for countries to achieve increasingly ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions responsible for climate change, and nuclear plants are valuable for providing large amounts of low-carbon electricity.

Rolls-Royce’s involvement in nuclear energy dates back to the 1950s, when it helped design British nuclear submarines.

© New York Times Foundation 2021
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