A US-based developer for small nuclear reactors has agreed to sell 24 power plants to UK customers. This puts pressure on competitors like Rolls-Royce.
Last Energy claimed that the £100m modular units can produce 20MW of electricity. This is enough power to power approximately 40,000 homes. They will be available for use in 2026 without the need for government funding.
Many companies are currently developing small-scale, factory-built nuclear power plants. By spreading out the development costs over multiple units, it is hoped that smaller units will result in lower prices.
Because it provides consistent power, , for heavy energy users who need to operate 24 hours a day, such as steel mills or data centres, nuclear power is appealing, , in comparison to wind and solar power .
Also, nuclear plants can provide heat that can be used for many industrial and chemical processes such as cement making. Last Energy can produce 60 MW of thermal energy.
Before the deals can be finalised and customers are paid, the US company must still get UK regulatory approval.
It expects that its first plant will be ready to deliver electricity within three years.
Last Energy stated that it has not sought any government funding, and that many components will be purchased from existing suppliers.
Mike Reynolds, UK boss of the firm, stated that the private sector-led approach to delivering nuclear power supports Government efforts to encourage growth and investment in green industries.
Last Energy has been able to secure additional funding to clear the plans and build them.
There are many other companies competing to bring a large-scale, nuclear plant design to market which includes Rolls-Royce and GE-Hitachi, as well as several smaller start-ups.
Because of Britain’s long history in nuclear power and its favorable approach to foreign investments, the UK is considered a key market.
Jeremy Hunt, the new head of government, Great British Nuclear, unveiled a new unit last week. It aims to launch nuclear projects and focuses on developing small modular reactors.
The Government shut down Rolls’ ambitions to build a fleet in the UK by opening up the process to competition last week. The £1.8bn models of the British engineer generate 470MW.
Rolls could continue with private or foreign orders but executives were unable to explain why the Government would fund development up to £210m, and then raise the possibility of not buying their models.
Last Energy avoided this and went directly to investors and customers to fund its smaller units. Customers can afford these units with a lower price, so they are more affordable.