The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has provided initial match funding of £18m ($23.1m) for a Rolls-Royce-led consortium of companies to design a compact nuclear power station.

The consortium, which comprises Assystem, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Rolls-Royce, Atkins, Wood, The Welding Institute and Nuclear AMRC, has been working on a design for the plants for four years.

The components for the power stations will be manufactured in sections in regional factories, and then be transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly under a weatherproof canopy.

In addition to reducing the costs by avoiding weather disruptions, the process is expected to secure gradual efficiency savings by using streamlined manufacturing processes for components.

New compact nuclear power station to cost $2.31bn

The first five of the compact nuclear power stations are expected to cost £1.8bn ($2.31bn) each, have a capacity of 440MW and be able to produce power for 60 years.

BAM said in a statement: “The shared initial investment will be used to progress the significant opportunities presented by the programme; prepare it for the UK’s regulatory Generic Design Assessment process; and make final decisions on which innovations to pursue and realise.

“It will also generate the valuable confidence that the supply chain needs to begin to prepare for a programme that could create around £52 billion of value for the UK economy.”

By 2050, a full UK programme of 16 power stations is expected to create 40,000 jobs and result in £250bn ($320.4bn) of exports.

Rolls-Royce chief technology officer Paul Stein 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.”

Recently, the UK government announced a £220m ($270m) in funding for the development of a commercially viable nuclear fusion power station by 2040.

The funding will be used for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) project for the conceptual design of a fusion power station. The project is expected to create 300 jobs directly.