What is Rolls-Royce’s position in small modular reactors?

With a push for production of small modular reactors, Rolls-Royce is invested in NuScale’s plans to build SMRs that could bring the energy transition

Developing the built environment requires significant power output, particularly in hard-to-reach areas where construction, mining, and other industrial activities take place. 

This is why, when it comes to more remote work settings, small modular reactors (SMRs) provide scalability in areas where larger reactors are not able to be used. However, access to such power comes at the cost of regulation and heightened safety procedures as we all know the results of nuclear reactions on a large scale. 

The US-based nuclear SMR developer NuScale, claims they are lower risk due to their limited consumption of radioactive materials, which bodes well for these machines as the optimal solutions for mobile power across industries.  

NuScale is in the process of developing an SMR known to the business as VOYGR, which is a name that suggests portability and wonder as it anticipates its capabilities in the industrial sector. Working with the UK-based Rolls-Royce, NuScale is looking to secure a future for its SMR technology and therefore support the needs of the engineering firm by securing its first orders of the unit. 

The VOYGR is based on a standard nuclear reactor design called a pressurised water-cooled reactor, which is the first of its kind to be certified by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

UK input into the modular nuclear energy era

The UK’s interest in the nuclear energy scene resulted in commitments to find suitable applications of SMRs to support its strategy for net-zero emissions. The country also sees great potential for low-cost energy production, which could be produced in a factory setting and assembling on site. 

By incorporating SMR solutions into the day-to-day energy demand could potentially bolster the impacts of the energy transition from fossil fuels to zero-emission forms of energy. 

The President of NuScale’s VOYGR services and delivery Tom Mundy said recently that the company would not require capital from Great British Nuclear (GBN)—an organisation formed by the UK Government. Mundy also explains that NuScale is ready to deliver its project before the timescale of the GBN, which could see SMRs in production by 2030. 

“That means taking a final investment decision then. That’s too late for us. We have got customers taking final investment decisions much earlier,” Mundy says.

A non-renewable solution to sustainable energy 

While not considered renewable, production of energy by nuclear fuel is said to produce no emissions and is increasing in popularity among governments. Thanks to uranium’s high energy density, a single SMR unit can produce 300 megawatts equivalent of energy, which is only a third of the full amount produced by full-size reactors. 

With more regulations and procedures in place, nuclear energy could provide a suitable level of power to sustain industries as they transition to entirely renewable energy sources that use the likes of wind, solar, hydropower, and geothermal energy.

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