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Boris Johnson is expected to approve mini-nuclear reactors in 2024 amid a scramble to ditch fossil fuels, a boss of Rolls-Royce has said.
The Government asked the nuclear watchdog to start the approval process last month after the firm secured a £210m grant in November from ministers to develop the country’s first small nuclear reactor (SMR).
Paul Stein, chairman of Rolls-Royce’ Small Modular Reactors division, said that the regulatory process is likely to be complete in the middle of 2024.
“We are trying to work with the UK Government and others to get going now placing orders, so we can get power on grid by 2029,” he told Reuters.
It comes as the Prime Minister seeks to cut the dependency on fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions by introducing mini-nukes across the country.
He reportedly said he wanted to see the UK covered in so many mini-nukes that he foresees “not quite everyone having their own small modular reactors in their gardens, but close to it”.
In its energy strategy published earlier this month, the Government said it wanted to reach a final investment decision on the first SMR project in the next parliament.
However, it is understood Rolls-Royce wants the Government to reach that point during this parliament, in order to get the first power on to the grid from an SMR by 2029.
Rolls-Royce will start manufacturing the parts of the mini-nukes that are the least likely to require changes within the next few years.
Each 470 megawatt (MW) SMR unit costs £1.8bn and would be built on a 10-acre site, the size of around 10 football fields. Unlike traditional reactors, they are cheaper and quicker to build.
They can be shipped by container from the factory and assembled relatively quickly on any proposed site.
Earlier this month it emerged that a US energy developer, backed by a fund linked to Elon Musk, was in talks with the Government to build a small fleet of small nuclear reactors across the UK.
Last Energy wants to build its first mini-nuclear power plant by 2025 and is in advanced talks over sites in England and Wales.