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Rolls-Royce is going to build a number of mini nuclear power plants in Ukraine: what is known about the ambitious plan

Kseniya KapustynskaNews
SMR can help the Ukrainian energy sector
SMR can help the Ukrainian energy sector

The British energy and aerospace concern Rolls-Royce SMR is negotiating with Ukrainian energy companies to build mini nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the country. They can be built on the basis of existing coal-fired TPPs/CHPs no earlier than 2030. Such plants are expected to help decentralize Ukraine's energy system, which has become especially important during the full-scale invasion of Russia.

According to The Telegraph, the British concern has already held talks with Ukraine's DTEK on the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) at sites currently operated by coal-fired power plants. "The details of these discussions are commercially confidential," Rolls-Royce SMR said, without denying the fact that the talks were held.

The publication also claims that the Ukrainian side has been negotiating with other companies developing the SMR. "Negotiations with Rolls began after the participants in the British competition for SMR project funding reported that the next stage was postponed," the article says.

Thus, in the UK, six companies, including Rolls-Royce SMR, are competing for the implementation of state-funded SMR projects. They expected the official tender to take place in December 2023, but it was postponed to January.

By the way, back in March 2023, Ukrainian Energoatom signed a memorandum of understanding with Rolls-Royce SMR. The document envisages a joint search for opportunities for the future deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) of the British company.

What is a mini nuclear power plant?

The small modular reactors being developed by Rolls-Royce SMR are a new and commercially untested technology. The company plans to introduce it no earlier than 2030, and the first such reactor is expected to be built in the UK, not Ukraine.

The reactors themselves can be manufactured at a separate plant and then simply delivered to the construction site of a mini nuclear power plant. These reactors have an output capacity of 50 to 300 MW, but can be combined with a power plant with a capacity of up to 1000 MW. In addition, if one of the modules breaks down, it can be repaired without stopping the operation completely. This reduces environmental risks and project costs.

Project SMR

The company described the project as follows: "We have developed a clean energy solution. It can provide cost-competitive and scalable power for a variety of applications, from grid and industrial power generation to hydrogen and synthetic fuel production."

SMRs are a much cheaper solution than large nuclear power plants. In addition, the operation of these nuclear power plants is more flexible, and the capacity is easier to manage. Thus, small nuclear power plants can become an "insurance" source of energy for the unstable solar and wind energy market.

When renewable energy production goes into a lull, small nuclear power can eliminate the electricity shortage, which is impossible for large nuclear projects. That is, the combination of nuclear energy from mini-nuclear power plants with renewable energy sources can theoretically provide full coverage of the electricity needs of states, according to Rolls-Royce SMR.

 

As reported by OBOZ.UA, due to the consequences of Russia's massive attacks on energy facilities last winter, for the first time, the Ukrainian energy system is going through the heating season without any reserves of generating capacity. According to Volodymyr Omelchenko, Director of Energy Programs at the Razumkov Center, this is the main reason why the grid periodically experiences shortages.

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