A consortium led by Rolls Royce has announced plans to build up to 16 mini-nuclear plants in the UK. The BBC reports: It says the project will create 6,000 new jobs in the Midlands and the North of England over the next five years. The prime minister is understood to be poised to announce at least 200 million pounds for the project as part of a long-delayed green plan for economic recovery. Rolls argues that as well as producing low-carbon electricity, the concept could become a new export industry. The company’s UK “small modular reactor” (SMR) group includes the National Nuclear Laboratory and the building company Laing O’Rourke. The government says new nuclear is essential if the UK is to meet its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 — where any carbon released is balanced out by an equivalent amount absorbed from the atmosphere. But there is a nuclear-sized hole opening up in the energy network. Six of the UK’s seven nuclear reactor sites are due to go offline by 2030 and the remaining one, Sizewell B, is due to be decommissioned in 2035. Together they account for around 20% of the country’s electricity. Each plant would produce 440 megawatts of electricity — roughly enough to power Sheffield — and the hope is that, once the first few have been made, they will cost around 2 billion pounds each. The consortium says the first of these modular plants could be up and running in 10 years, after that it will be able to build and install two a year. By comparison, the much larger nuclear plant being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset is expect to cost some 22 billion pounds but will produce more than 3 gigawatts of electricity — over six times as much.
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