Could Rolls-Royce open nuclear reactor factory in South Yorkshire - region 'working on response' to invitation

Rolls-Royce has put out a call for factory sites for its £490m small nuclear reactor programme – and South Yorkshire is working on a response.

Thursday, 27th January 2022, 4:06 pm

The Local Enterprise Partnership has received a letter from the engineering giant inviting bids for locations for new facilities. They would build parts for a new fleet of ‘small modular nuclear reactors’, or SMRs.

The LEP is the business arm of the Mayoral Combined Authority.

A spokeswoman said: “We have received the letter and the LEP is currently working with partners on a response.”

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Small modular reactors are designed to be made in sections in a factory and assembled on site, with about 12 generating the same power as a traditional nuclear power station.

WHAT IS ROLLS-ROYCE ASKING FOR?

In its letter, Rolls-Royce offers ‘high value, sustainable jobs’ and asks for ‘financial and non-financial support where appropriate’, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The LEP gave £5m to Boeing to build a factory in Sheffield, its first in Europe. And it gave McLaren £12m to build a Rotherham factory making carbon fibre chassis for the company’s supercars.

A Rolls-Royce SMR spokesman said: "The development and growth of a UK nuclear manufacturing base is core to the deployment of Rolls-Royce SMRs. We have therefore initiated a process to identify a site for the first major factory installation, the Heavy Pressure Vessel factory.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng signs contract for small modular nuclear reactors with Rolls-Royce and funders at the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham.

"We look forward to working with LEPs and the Welsh government to identify potential sites, an important step in delivering on our commitment to 80 per cent UK content for Rolls-Royce SMR deployment in the UK."

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Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng greenlit the next generation of nuclear power on a visit to Sheffield in November.

The Secretary of State for Business said he had ‘no doubt’ the city would be a big part of Rolls-Royce’s plans, as he launched a £450m project to develop small modular nuclear reactors, set to supply the UK with electricity by 2030.

HOW MANY JOBS COULD BE CREATED?

The engineering giant says it could create 6,000 jobs by 2025 and up to 40,000 with a full UK fleet of 16 reactors and exports.

Mr Kwarteng said then: “I think Sheffield has great history, great skills, a great university and I think it will be at the forefront of our push to lead the world.”

At the time, Tom Samson, chief executive of the newly formed Rolls-Royce SMR, said the funding would be spent finalising the design of the reactors, which are set to cost £2bn each and power 1m homes.

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