Having secured £450m from government and investors, Rolls-Royce is moving ahead with its small modular reactor (SMR) venture, which forms part of the government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution over the next decade. This new generation of nuclear reactors will be quicker and cheaper to roll out than their traditional large-scale counterparts.
Ahead of the Manufacturing Technology Centre‘s upcoming National Manufacturing Summit, James Devonshire sat down briefly with Alan Woods, Strategy and Business Development Director at Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactors, who will be speaking at the event, to get a taste of what we can expect…
JD: For our readers who aren’t fully up to speed, what is Rolls-Royce’s SMR programme all about in a nutshell?
AW: We are bringing to market a low cost, low carbon secure and modular approach to new nuclear.
RR have been building nuclear reactors for submarines for 60 years, we are developing a civil reactor for electricity, hydrogen production, energy intensive users, synthetic aviation fuel – decarbonisation and electrification will lead to a huge demand for low carbon technologies and RR SMR’s are a perfect solution to that challenge
JD: You’ll be speaking at the MTC’s forthcoming National Manufactuering Summit. What can attendees expect to learn?
AW: We have recently launched our factory search, to identify a location for the first factory to enable the deployment of SMRs in the UK and for export.
Attendees will learn about our initial supply chain strategy and how we will target and improve upon 80% UK content
JD: What is RR SMR looking to get out of the event?
AW: We speak at a lot of nuclear conferences, in 2022 we want to speak to energy, manufacturing, STEM Skills conferences – to get to a wider audience.
JD: What’s next on the Rolls-Royce SMR roadmap? I know you’re shopping for potential sites to build factories. How’s that going?
AW: Identifying the site for the first factory will be a major milestone, it’s a significant and tangible step to deployment.
We are shortly to enter the Generic Design Assessment process run by the UK regulator – this means that the RR SMR will be the only European SMR in a regulatory programme – important that we deliver on this first mover advantage.
JD: In addition to producing cleaner energy, what else does the UK need to do to meet its ambitious net zero targets?
AW: Decarbonisation is a tremendous challenge. Lots of focus on hydrogen but people often fail to explain how they will produce green hydrogen – we see an opportunity to use SMRs for the production of low carbon hydrogen. With the significant boost in electrification, we need to deliver a major infrastructure shift that brings low carbon solutions to market at pace.
Alan concluded by saying there is tremendous government support for new nuclear, which is cross party. “This enables long term investment decisions to be taken and a really important factor in our future success,” he said.
Alan Woods is Strategy and Business Development Director at Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactors
The National Manufacturing Summit will take place on February 8-9 at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry. Register now to secure your place: nmsummit.co.uk/book
*header image courtesy of Rolls-Royce SMR