UK Government Set to Fund Mini Nuclear Reactors in the North in an Effort to Meet 2050 Zero Emissions Target

By Shabana Arif on at

In a bid to hit the UK's net zero emissions target by 2050, the government is investing £18m into clean energy in the form of mini nuclear reactors up north.

Rolls-Royce will be heading up the project for the small modular reactors (SMR), with the first one expected to be up and running within the next 15 years.

"These new mini nuclear reactors would be concentrated across the North — and plans are in motion to place them in the Sheffield city region, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire," said a government source. "Nuclear is clean and a way of reducing the UK’s carbon footprint on a large scale."

According to estimates by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, a single SMR could provide enough energy for 750,000 homes, and the project as a whole is expected to create 40,000 jobs.

Rolls-Royce's website goes into more detail on its SMRs, which will use "recognised nuclear standards and technologies" to build "in certainty about the cost of creating a plant, the time it will take to create, and the cost of the electricity it will generate."

The company says it modular approach will drive down the cost of electricity as much as is feasibly possible, "whilst at the same time building in multiple layers of fault prevention and protection to make sure the technology is safe in all modes of operation."

Not everyone is board with the idea, with Dr Ian Fairlie of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - an organisation calling for a global ban on nuclear weapons and that opposes nuclear energy - saying that "The grandiose safety claims made about SMRs are reminiscent of false claims about nuclear power in the 1950s when it was said electricity would become too cheap to meter.

"SMRs are still vulnerable to nuclear accidents, terror attacks, and can produce more nuclear waste than conventional reactors per unit of electricity."

Dan Jarvis, Sheffield City Region mayor, sees the project in a more positive light, saying "The Sheffield City Region is superbly placed to support the development of small modular reactors technology.

"We can play a leading role in meeting the challenges of climate change while helping to keep the lights on."

The SMRs are in addition to the efforts on the renewable energy front, with the queen leasing out her royal seabeds to build offshore windfarms, raking in a potential £100m in the process. [Mirror]