Rolls-Royce has begun its search for a location to build its new nuclear reactor factory, with the company inviting those with suitable sites to bid.
In November 2020, Rolls-Royce announced plans to construct a fleet of 16 small modular reactors (SMR) across the UK, which it noted at the time would help the country achieve its net zero goal by 2050 ‘without breaking the bank’. That’s because the smaller reactors are expected to cost significantly less than the large-scale nuclear power plants the UK Government has so far thrown its weight behind, like those at Sizewell C.
However, the UK Government clearly sees potential in these small reactors, with it awarding a consortium of firms led by Rolls-Royce with £210 million in funding to build the factory that will churn out these nuclear reactors.
While the Rolls-Royce-led consortium has yet to decide where to build its factory, it’s clearly eager to hear from site owners. Thus far it has written to the Scottish government and several regional bodies asking them to submit their proposals for the manufacturing site.
It will have to move quickly, however. Upon announcing the plans in 2020, the consortium noted that its first unit will be operational within 10 years of the first order, with the factories able to produce two units per year thereafter.
Of course, that would mean the UK would have to wait at least eight years to get all 16 of the nuclear reactors promised at the rate of two reactors per year, however it’s unlikely that this will be the only factory built. At the time of announcement, the consortium noted that doubling or tripling the number of factories would allow more power stations to be made more quickly to meet additional UK and international demand.