British automaker Rolls-Royce announced that it would develop the U.K.’s first-ever small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) as part of the nation’s net zero emissions ambitions.
The U.K. government will provide more than $284 million while Rolls-Royce and two energy firms will invest about $264 million in the SMR project, according to the announcement Monday. The project will ultimately establish “low cost, low carbon nuclear power technology” in the U.K. while increasing its energy independence.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the UK to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before and ensure greater energy independence,” U.K. Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said in a statement.
“Small Modular Reactors offer exciting opportunities to cut costs and build more quickly, ensuring we can bring clean electricity to people’s homes and cut our already-dwindling use of volatile fossil fuels even further,” he continued.
The single Rolls-Royce SMR is projected to create 40,000 British jobs by 2050 and generate $70.5 billion in economic activity, the automaker said. The reactor may also create enough energy to power a million homes.
An SMR is an advanced nuclear reactor that is significantly smaller than a traditional nuclear reactor, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. It is also less expensive and quicker to construct than a traditional reactor.
“The SMR programme is one of the ways that Rolls-Royce is meeting the need to ensure the UK continues to develop innovative ways to tackle the global threat of climate change,” Rolls-Royce chief executive Warren East stated.
“With the Rolls-Royce SMR technology, we have developed a clean energy solution which can deliver cost competitive and scalable net zero power for multiple applications from grid and industrial electricity production to hydrogen and synthetic fuel manufacturing,” East added.
U.K. energy firm BNF Resources and U.S. power company Exelon Generation will help develop and provide partial funding for the SMR.
Meanwhile, world leaders continue to conduct high-level climate negotiations at an ongoing United Nations summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.K. has led several agreements on curbing deforestation, methane reductions and financing climate projects.
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