The new small-scale power stations are being designed to be manufactured in sections in regional factories, before being transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy.
This would slash costs by avoiding weather disruptions and secures gradual efficiency savings by using streamlined and standardised manufacturing processes for its components.
The radical energy proposals are being worked up to help meet the Government’s 2050 net zero-carbon target.
The Government’s UK Research and Innovation will provide £18m of match funding to the consortium of companies designing the new nuclear reactors.
Firms involved include: Assystem, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Rolls-Royce, Atkins, Wood, The Welding Institute and Nuclear AMRC.
The consortium ultimately aims to generate a joint investment of £500m focused on designing a first-of-its-kind small modular reactor, which would form the core of the new compact plants.
By 2050, a full programme of 16 power stations could create 40,000 jobs and add £52bn of value to the UK economy, the government added.
Each power station will be able to operate for 60 years and provide 440MW of electricity, which is enough to power a city the size of Leeds.
The shared initial investment will be used to prepare for the UK’s regulatory Generic Design Assessment process and make final decisions on which innovations to pursue.
Paul Stein, chief technology officer for Rolls-Royce, which leads the consortium, said: “Tackling climate change requires collaboration across industries and governments to find effective, affordable and sustainable ways of achieving net-zero by 2050.
“The consortium’s work with the Government shows that action is being taken to decarbonise our economy and meet our society’s vital and growing power needs. This is a very positive step forward to this next phase of the programme.”