Member News

British small nuclear plants can deliver low cost, low carbon electricity

12 September 2017

British consumers could benefit from lower cost electricity if the Government was to back an SMR programme for the UK, according to a new report issued today by Rolls-Royce and its partners in a UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) consortium.

The company and partners, including Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Laing O’Rourke and Nuvia, say SMRs could produce energy for as low as £60 per megawatt hour – competitive against wind and solar and helping the continual reduction in the price of nuclear generated power.

The study, entitled “UK SMR: A National Endeavour”, urges Ministers to support the development of British-manufactured power plants, which could create 40,000 skilled jobs, contribute £100bn to the economy and open up a potential £400bn global export market.

The report argues that, through its innovative approach to modular contruction, the UK SMR programme is uniquely placed to avoid the complexities, delays and overspends often associated with infrastructure projects.
Highlighting the importance of delivering security of supply as decarbonisation and electric vehicles look set to increase electricity demands from consumers, the study points out that just one SMR can power a city the size of Leeds, charge more than 62,000 electric cars, or keep 88 million smartphones operational.

Harry Holt, President – Nuclear, Rolls-Royce, said:

“The UK has never had a greater need for low cost, low carbon, safe, secure and reliable energy production. With demand for energy set to rise in the near future – in part due to the growing popularity of electric cars – we believe that a UK SMR programme is a vital addition to our national infrastructure.

“It represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for UK companies to design, manufacture and operate next generation reactors to meet our energy challenge, bolster the Government’s Industrial Strategy, bring jobs and growth to our economy and provide valuable post-Brexit exports.”

Independent Fellows of The Royal Academy of Engineering were invited by Rolls-Royce to review the consortium’s business case for SMRs. Richard Maudslay, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, who led the study said:

“The review team concluded that a UK SMR programme managed by a Rolls-Royce-led consortium with appropriate full and ongoing Government support would offer the UK the best opportunity to design, manufacture and construct the next generation of nuclear plants and would help to deliver a national nuclear strategy.”

In a foreword to the report, Lord Hutton, Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, said:

“It is vitally important to make the decision to move forward on this opportunity now. That is why the UK Government should make clear its intentions so that the UK can deliver a solution that will supply secure, reliable and affordable electricity for more than 60 years and capitalise on new overseas markets that are emerging for SMRs.”


About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

1. Rolls-Royce’s vision is to be the market-leader in high performance power systems where our engineering expertise, global reach and deep industry knowledge deliver outstanding customer relationships and solutions. We operate across five businesses: Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems.
2. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers including 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.
3. We have three common themes across all our businesses:

  • Investing in and developing engineering excellence
  • Driving a manufacturing and supply chain transformation which will embed operational excellence in lean, lower-cost facilities and processes
  • Leveraging our installed base, product knowledge and engineering capabilities to provide customers with outstanding service through which we can capture aftermarket value long into the future.

4. Annual underlying revenue was £13.8 billion in 2016, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £80 billion at the end of 2016.
5. In 2016, Rolls-Royce invested £1.3 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
6. Rolls-Royce employs 50,000 people in more than 46 countries. More than 16,000 of these are engineers.
7. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills. In 2015 we employed 228 graduates and 277 apprentices through our worldwide training programmes.

For further information, please contact:

Debbie Huston, Head of Communications, Nuclear
+44 7800 872735

David Cracknell
+44 7703 492 993

For a pdf of the report go to