Tuesday, October 19 2021

Rolls-Royce to land “billions of pounds” in orders for mini nuclear power plants from Eastern European countries

Rolls-Royce is on the verge of securing orders worth “billions of pounds” for mini nuclear power plants from Eastern European countries, said the boss of a major investor.

A consortium led by the engineering giant has secured £ 210million in funding from private investors for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) program in the UK.

This should unlock the same amount of government funding, allowing Rolls-Royce to launch the project. An announcement is imminent, and the green investment fund IP3 has said that government approval should pave the way for the technology to be exported to other countries.

A good sign: Green investment fund IP3 said government approval should pave the way for the technology to be exported to other countries

IP3 surveyed pension funds and institutional investors about the possibility of pouring cash into a multibillion-pound fund to invest in small nuclear infrastructure.

He also advises energy suppliers and governments on the development of nuclear energy projects.

IP3 chief executive Mike Hewitt, a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, told the Mail on Sunday that countries in Eastern Europe – including Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Hungary, Estonia and Bulgaria – are making “aggressive plans” for nuclear.

He said the Rolls-Royce project was “among the pioneers,” adding: “Rolls-Royce occupies a unique position as a British brand company accustomed to a factory approach to phasing out aircraft engines. If the UK commits to allowing the first three or four reactors to be built, you can go into production, then they are in a privileged position to be the reactor of choice for other countries.

IP3 advises the large Polish energy supplier ZE PAK on the development of a plan for nuclear power plants.

Rolls-Royce said it was in discussions with interested parties on “export opportunities around the world, including Europe”.

Its investment consortium aims to build a fleet of 16 prefabricated reactors by 2035 to complete the largest power plants. IP3 hopes that the consortium can unlock hundreds of millions of pounds more in public funds to take the project through the design and regulatory assessment phase and into production.

The gas bill crisis has heightened the focus on nuclear investments to bolster UK energy supplies and supplement renewable energy sources as Britain seeks to achieve net zero carbon by 2050. Britain is already facing a hole in its nuclear supplies with six major power plants due to be taken offline by 2030.

Sources in the nuclear industry have warned that Rolls’ program is in its infancy relative to technology being developed in North and South America and China. Several British sites have been mentioned for SMR, including Copeland in Cumbria.

Hewitt said, “We are extremely confident that we can come in and bring in outside capital to invest in these projects if the government invests the necessary capital to start the project and reduce the risk.

“The Prime Minister has a plan to boost Britain’s green energy and nuclear PMSs are an important part of it. There are a lot of pension funds, institutional investors and sovereign wealth funds keen to support hybrid nuclear systems. ‘

Government support for the SMR program would be a further boost for Rolls-Royce, which ultimately sold its Spanish company, ITP Aero, for £ 1.5 billion as it tries to lose weight. It also landed a £ 1.9 billion deal to supply parts for the US Air Force’s B-52 bomber fleet in the 2050s.

Shares have jumped 35% to £ 1.42 in the past two weeks, spurred in part by optimism about the return of long-haul travel – a key source of income for Rolls-Royce.

Meanwhile, new president Anita Frew took office last week and is under pressure from American activist investor Causeway Capital to refresh its board of directors.


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