Is The UK Really Planning To Approve “Mini Nuclear Reactor” Rollout?

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It was reported last week in The Telegraph that ministers in the UK were “ready” to approve the rapid development and testing of a fleet of “mini nuclear reactors” — to be used as baseload capacity and meant to make up for older soon-to-be-decommissioned nuclear facilities.

Is there any truth to this assertion? What about the assertion that such mini nuclear facilities will provide electricity that’s one-third cheaper than that provide by the nuclear facilities currently in use in the UK?

That sounds a bit “too good to be true” (which means that it probably is), but that is the sales pitch that’s being used.

I haven’t been able to find out too much about what’s going on, as many news outlets haven’t been covering the matter apparently, but it seems that “Rolls-Royce, NuScale, Hitachi, and Westinghouse have held meetings in past weeks with civil servants about Britain’s nuclear strategy and development of ‘small modular reactors’ (SMRs)” in recent days — if The Telegraph is to be believed.

Here’s more from that coverage: “Whitehall sources confirmed that ­officials from the Department for Business were whittling down proposals from consortia keen to work with government to develop SMRs, with an ­announcement on the final contenders for funding expected soon.

“The report to be published by Rolls-Royce, entitled ‘UK SMR: A National Endeavour’, which has been seen by The Telegraph, claims SMRs will be able to generate electricity significantly cheaper than conventional nuclear plants.

“The mini reactors are each expected to be able to generate between 200 megawatts and 450 megawatts of power, compared with the 3.2 gigawatts due from Hinkley, meaning more of them will be required to meet the UK’s energy needs.”

The Rolls Royce report claims that its projects would be able to generate electricity at a strike price of £60 per megawatt-hour — a fair bit higher than a number of other electricity generation modalities can offer. Though, I guess that the sales pitch is based on the idea of its use as baseload capacity?

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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