Sunday, April 21, 2024
HomeCulture WarGet Rolls-Royce building SMRs – the sensible alternative to wind farms

Get Rolls-Royce building SMRs – the sensible alternative to wind farms


IN FRIDAY’S Daily Telegraph Ben Marlow made a good case for Rolls-Royce small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) to be ordered soon, because the continued operation of around 20GW of gas-fired power stations hinges on the assumption that CO2 capture and storage (CCS) will be viable enough to make them green – which is a very big assumption.

Who has compared the cost of SMRs with the cost of solar and wind farms, plus the enormous energy storage needed? We are told that by 2030 wind will provide 50GW of electricity when it is blowing hard. But 50GW of wind farms will average only around 30 per cent of that over the year. So stored energy (eg in H2) would have to make up the 70 per cent shortfall. But the electrolysers used to release H2 from water require over 200 units of input energy for every 100 units out. So a total wind farm nameplate capacity of around 250GW, plus H2 storage, will be needed to meet an average 24 x 7 grid demand of 50GW. That’s around five times the wind farms planned, but only 10GW of H2 capacity is planned.

However, around 100 SMRs would provide around 50GW, 24 x 7, at a similar cost without energy storage and with lower transmission capital and loss costs, with longer life expectancy and no need for energy storage. So why do we need so many new wind farms? Since SMRs are a derivative of those in our nuclear subs, produced by RR, many of the SMR regulatory obstacles should have already been cleared by RR. So let’s get some SMRs running without further delay.

Will government take the easy option of ordering foreign-made SMRs on the back of their government subsidies, for short-term gain? What value will be placed on the 40,000 extra UK jobs in various sectors during the development and commissioning of SMRs,  along with our subsequent independence in technology, spares and back-up, particularly in time of war? Would we have outsourced the manufacture of our strategic assets during WW2? I don’t think so.

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Roger J Arthur
Roger J Arthur
Roger Arthur, CEng, MIEE, MIET, held senior positions in large international companies, at home and abroad, leading large projects and teams. He has over 30 years of experience in the electrical supply industry.

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