Rolls-Royce Plans To Build Mini Nuclear Reactors By 2029

It's not exactly news that people have been developing nuclear power for quite a while now. What is news, however, is just what kind of company just entered the "yeah, let's start messing around with nuclear energy" game. As the BBC tells us, said company is none other than the venerable Rolls-Royce, best known for manufacturing cool cars for the massively wealthy and ... well, that's it. That's the only thing they're really known for — or, at least, used to be. On January 24, 2020, the manufacturer announced to BBC Today that they have plans to "install and operate factory-built power stations" by the year 2029. They intend these "mini reactors" to be mass-manufactured in a way that enables them to be delivered in "chunks" that fit in a van, and are gunning to build around 10-15 of the things.  

Of course, not everyone is taking these news standing down, as opponents of the plan believe that the UK should get rid of nuclear power entirely and rely on renewable energy instead. This seems like a discussion worth following, if only because someone's bound to dub it "Nuxit" eventually, at which point it'll become a whole other thing. Oh, and detractors have also warned about some potential pitfalls of the Rolls-Royce project, including production line mistakes, which sounds like something no one wants to discover in their operational nuclear reactor. At least, no one who has seen Chernobyl

Why is Rolls-Royce messing around with nuclear reactors, anyway?

Rolls-Royce didn't just wake up one day and decide by themselves: "Oh well, it's nuclear reactor time." The company is actually leading a whole consortium behind the project, which aims to "build small modular reactors and install them in former nuclear sites." They also hope to start selling their mini reactors in other countries to help the project over the cost barrier. Be that as it may, it's interesting to see just how the project fares. After all, the nuclear industry has had some pretty tough years recently, as giants like Hitachi and Toshiba have been forced to withdraw from major projects due to lack of funding.  Oh, and apart from all their other challenges, the Rolls-Royce nuclear plant project is also racing against time. Critics have suggested that there's little chance for the plants to be ready in any significant numbers before 2030 — a crucial year when the UK is gunning to make its electricity completely carbon-free. Still, at least they can advertise their product as "the Rolls-Royce of nuclear reactors," so at least the marketing department has it easy.