Sheffield will lead world in nuclear power says business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

‘Sheffield will be at the forefront of our push to lead the world’ said business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng as he launched the next generation of nuclear power.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 12:13 pm

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.

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.

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

Mr Kwarteng attended the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre - part of Sheffield University - to sign contracts with the Rolls-Royce and funders who are putting up £195m.

It comes a week after the government committed to a net zero carbon electricity supply by 2035 and amid soaring energy prices.

Mr Kwarteng said: “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.”

He had discussions with Rolls-Royce ‘all the time’, he added.

Kwasi Kwarteng tours the Nuclear AMRC.

Tom Samson, chief executive of the newly formed Rolls-Royce SMR, said the £450m would be spent finalising the design of the reactors which are set to cost £2bn each and power one million homes.

At the same time it would be looking for suitable sites and opening factories to make parts for them. If South Yorkshire was chosen, it could open within two years. The firm some spare land at its jet engine blade casting factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham across the road from the Nuclear AMRC.

Mr Samson said: “We want to reindustrialise the North with a new industrial base. The jobs will be tied to production that will export around the world.”

Koen Lamberts, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said he was very excited the university was involved in two of the most important projects to address the energy challenge.

The launch came on the same day the University of Sheffield announced a deal with Sheffield hydrogen specialist ITM Power to build a factory on its land on Sheffield Business Park, the former Sheffield Airport runway, set to create 300 jobs.

Koen Lamberts, vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said he was very excited the university was involved in two of the most important projects to address the energy challenge.

He added: “We hope this will give investors in the region the confidence we can make things happen through a partnership between the university and business. I am passionate about that. Innovation is one of our core missions.

Automated CNC five-axis milling and turning machine at the Nuclear AMRC.

Rolls-Royce is contacting local authorities and local enterprise partnerships about sites for its factories. Mr Lamberts said South Yorkshire LEP understood their key role very well and it was ‘talking to us in the right terms’.

The LEP previously gave Boeing £5m to set up its first factory in Europe in Sheffield and McLaren £12m to establish a carbon fibre chassis factory in Rotherham.

South Yorkshire manufacturers hope to win new nuclear work, including Forgemasters which has extensive experience building parts for nuclear submarines.

Chief executive David Bond said they had invested ‘significant’ sums preparing for SMRs.

He added: “We have placed significant investment into class-leading machining capabilities and are pioneering research, development and advanced routes to manufacture for small modular reactor forgings, building on many years of manufacturing experience within the nuclear market.”

Hi-tech machinery at the Nuclear AMRC.

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