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Small Modular Reactor announcement welcomed

Rolls-Royce’s announcement that a consortium of investors will back the development and siting of four Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) has been welcomed by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership’s (CLEP’s) Clean Energy Sector Panel.

Government announced that it would provide £210m of funding in its 10 Point Plan, providing that this could be matched by private capital. Today, Rolls-Royce announced that it had secured £195m in private sector capital.

A range of partners in Cumbria have been working closely with Rolls-Royce to help it to progress its plans to bring Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) into use to support clean energy generation. The four sites have yet to be identified but it is recognised that the Moorside and Fellside sites, adjacent to the Sellafield site in West Cumbria, are strong contenders for SMR siting, given Cumbria’s nuclear heritage.

These first of a kind developments will help demonstrate the role that SMRs can play in addressing the UK’s future energy needs. They will also create job and supply chain opportunities, particularly in the advanced manufacturing sector.

The modular concept offers an alternative to large scale nuclear fission, with much of the production taking place off site. It also offers longer term expansion opportunities both nationally and internationally, which will create significant supply chain opportunities within Cumbria.

Dr Rebecca Weston, Chair of CLEP’s Clean Energy Sector Panel, said: “I am really pleased by today’s announcement and the interest that the UK SMR team has shown in Cumbria.

“CLEP’s Nuclear Prospectus outlined Cumbria’s credentials as a location for both new low-carbon nuclear energy generation and for the strong manufacturing supply chain required for this programme. Cumbria is determined to put a strong case forward to ensure that we are at the forefront of both government and investors’ thinking when they are considering new nuclear.

“The dual benefits of new inward investment aligned to a strong and experienced local supply chain offers a really exciting prospect for maximising economic benefit to our area.

“Importantly, an SMR could progress alongside our current application to UKAEA’s siting competition for a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), which is in the final stage, alongside four other locations.

Cumbria now has the potential to be at the forefront of both new fission and fusion technology, building on our expertise for first of a kind innovations.”

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