UK government to release funding for mini nuclear power stations
The UK Government is expected to invest up to £100m to put the UK as a leader in clean energy technology. UK ministers are expected to support the development of mini nuclear power stations across Britain, to give the UK a competitive boost on new technology and generate a clean source of energy.
Rolls-Royce, along with several and US and Chinese companies are awaiting confirmation for the development of these projects after George Osborne announced he would be willing to invest up to £250 million into these projects a few years ago.
Due to various delays in delivering the most effective reactor model, funding is now available to develop and test the models. Richard Harrington, the energy minister is due to announce support for this technology this week and funding is expected to be in the region of £100m.
Small nuclear reactors generate close to 10% of the total energy of a conventional larger power station. However, supporters highlight how efficient and cheaper they are to construct compared to their larger counterparts and support the low carbon transition within the UK.
Rolls Royce is has been working closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over small-scale designs and highlights the opportunity this provides for the UK and thousands of nuclear industry jobs that would be created.
Rolls Royce believes that electric vehicles are likely to become more common in the future energy mix and as a result, the small-scale reactors will become an essential part of the national infrastructure.
Nuclear industry experts have been somewhat frustrated by the Government’s inability to decide whether to support this new technology. Nuclear experts believe that if the Government is going to support this technology, they should move relatively quickly. Others have suggested that the amount of funding available has gradually decreased and may not be enough to really make a full impact when developing this technology.
The funding will be allocated to Rolls Royce and other US and Chinese businesses to undertake the research and development for small-scale construction in the UK. Government officials have however made it particularly clear that funding will not be available until the developers have proved that the small reactors will be cost-effective and competitive in comparison to other energy sources.
The first small nuclear reactor is not expected to be operations in the UK until around 2030. Industry experts believe new small-scale nuclear development is absolutely essential to create a balanced energy mix that is reliable, secure and cost-effective for the future. There is also the added benefit this development will have on the UK infrastructure, engineering jobs, and national economy.
Many view the smaller scale reactors as safer options that potentially will receive less opposition as generally found with larger, traditional nuclear structures.
The main obstacle is ensuring this technology can remain competitive with the continuing decrease in costs associated with other renewable energy technology. There are concerns whether the new nuclear technology will be competing against other alternatives when it does finally come to market. Many believe the simple answer is a definitive - no.
Other skeptics believe that whilst the plans may offer a viable source of carbon-free energy production, the designs are in their very early stages of development and extensive research and development is required before anything can be considered any further.