A cross party group of parliamentarians are backing plans for new nuclear, including Small Modular Reactors, to support the UK’s ambition to deliver energy security.
MP’s, members of the House of Lords and local leaders voiced strong support for the important role that Small Modular Reactors could play in the UK’s low-carbon energy future.
During an event in the Lords, they highlighted the need to get a cluster of job-creating new nuclear projects underway, at pace.
The event hosted by Lord Inglewood, Chair of the Cumbria LEP, brought together national stakeholders alongside those from Cumbria and North Wales, given their siting credentials.
Rolls-Royce SMR confirmed that it was actively exploring sites in West Cumbria and North Wales to site its revolutionary power plants each capable of producing 470MW of electricity.
Lord Inglewood, Chair of the Cumbria LEP, hosted the event. He said: “I was delighted to host today’s event to showcase to my colleagues the real opportunity that Small Modular Reactors and other new nuclear initiatives present in addressing net zero and energy security.
“It was also important to showcase the credentials that Cumbria, my own geography, has in taking forward these opportunities.
“We have the right people, skills and track-record as a centre of excellence, making us the natural home for nuclear innovation and investment.
“Creating a powerful nuclear cluster, with a mix of innovative facilities, will be central to the next chapter of the region’s nuclear legacy.
“The time to act is now, both in terms of tackling climate change and levelling up Britain’s economy.
“It’s heartening to see such strong support from parliament, business groups and our communities for nuclear innovation in Cumbria.
“We now need Government’s support to kickstart SMRs and other new nuclear projects to create long term high-quality jobs and to mobilise our supply chains.”
Commitment to the network of SMR plants would not only help meet growing demand for low-carbon electricity, but lay the groundwork for the British brand to export the technology across the globe.
Paul Stein, Chair of Rolls-Royce SMR, said: “Rolls-Royce SMR is the UK’s domestic nuclear energy champion and our technology, developed by a UK-based team building on decades of engineering, manufacturing and nuclear reactor design experience, will play a vital role in meeting global energy challenges – providing clean, affordable energy for generations to come.
“We strongly believe that, by moving ahead with our technology rapidly, not only will we address the issue of rising energy bills but we will create 40,000 jobs around the UK.
“The existing grid connection, infrastructure and access to a highly skilled workforce mean West Cumbria and North Wales have some of the best sites to locate the first Rolls-Royce SMRs.”
Political and business leaders in the region were clear that Cumbria must play a major role in the UK’s nuclear renaissance, with the Government targeting 24GW of nuclear power by 2050 in a bid to shore up Britain’s domestic energy and cut carbon emissions.
Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “West Cumbria is at the very heart of the UK’s nuclear industry, making it the perfect place to deliver innovative new nuclear projects. It has the technical know-how and the skills base to ensure it can play a significant part in the government’s plan to ramp up new nuclear capacity.
“Strong support from parliamentarians and local business groups shows the region’s commitment to prolonging its nuclear heritage, which will lead to more high-quality green jobs, create more supply chain opportunities, and help Britain reach its net zero target.”
In the longer term, as well as looking to host the Rolls-Royce SMR plant, Cumbria is also one of the final five locations being considered by Government for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) deployment.
If selected, the Moorside site in Copeland would become home to the first-of-kind nuclear fusion prototype plant, attracting global investors and industry leaders.
A decision from Government is expected this year.
It’s all part of a joined-up approach to capitalise on Cumbria’s natural assets to both generate green energy in the region, as well as cut carbon emissions from communities in turn creating up to 13,000 new green jobs.
The approach is set out in the Cumbria LEP’s draft Clean Energy Strategy.