Some £490m of public and private investment has now been raised to support the British engineering giant’s small nuclear reactor vision

Rolls-Royce has scored £85m backing from Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to help its plan to develop a fleet of small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear power plants across the UK, the engineering giant announced yesterday.

Under the terms of the partnership, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is to take a 10 per cent share of equity in Rolls-Royce SMR, the subsidiary company established by firm to design and build the proposed nuclear power stations.

The investment comes just a month after the UK government invested £210m in Rolls-Royce’s SMR plans, which they believe could play a major role in delivering reliable, low-carbon electricity to support the UK’s shift towards a net zero energy grid by 2035.

Rolls-Royce said the scheme was now “fully funded”, having racked up a grand total of £490m of public and private investment. The QIA joins BNF Resources UK and Exelon Generation as shareholders in the Rolls Royce SMR, alongside Rolls-Royce.

“I am tremendously pleased to announce that we have further strengthened our relationship with Qatar, through QIA’s investment in the Rolls-Royce SMR business,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East. “We have successfully raised the capital we need to establish Rolls-Royce SMR and it is encouraging to confirm that the business is now set up to succeed.”

Advocates of SMRs argue their modular nature mean they have the potential to deliver zero emission power at lower cost and on faster timescales than large scale new nuclear plants, with each SMR capable of providing enough power for around one million homes.

But critics argue the technology remains largely unproven and could be afflicted by the same cost and time overruns that have frequently impacted large scale nuclear projects.

However, the government remains convinced the project proposed by Rolls Royce has the potential to curb emissions and enhance energy security, while complementing the UK’s continued renewables roll out.

Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the investment was a “clear vote of confidence” in the UK’s leadership in nuclear innovation. “It represents a huge step forward in our plan to deploy more home-grown, affordable clean energy – ensuring greater energy independence for the UK, highly skilled jobs and bringing cheaper, cleaner electricity to people’s homes,” he said.

Meanwhile Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud, CEO of the sovereign wealth fund, said the move was part of Qatari state’s ongoing drive to support low carbon technologies that could deliver the net zero transition.

“QIA is investing in the energy transition and funding the technologies that enable low carbon electricity generation,” he said. “We will continue to seek out investments that align with our mandate to deliver long-term value for future generations through responsible sustainable investments.”

Rolls-Royce confirmed last month that it has officially started the regulatory approval process for its design of a 470MW small modular reactor. It must secure clearance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the UK’s nuclear and environmental regulatory bodies to advance the project.

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