Rolls-Royce factory, Derby

Qatar takes 10 per cent stake in Rolls-Royce small nuclear reactor arm

Image credit: PA

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is to invest £85m in Rolls-Royce’s project to build mini nuclear power stations in the UK.

Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR), which is majority-owned by Rolls-Royce, has been established to set up sites around the country that will be approximately a tenth the size of traditional reactors. These mini nuclear power stations would use modules constructed in factories that enable on-site assembly of the plant. Rolls-Royce is hoping to build its first small nuclear reactor, which has generation capacity of 470MW, in the early 2030s.

The sheer size and scale of conventional nuclear power stations has made it challenging to secure investors for new stations to replace the capacity of those due to be decommissioned in the coming years. It is hoped that the small modular approach will make it considerably cheaper to bring zero-carbon electricity onto the grid via new nuclear power stations.

Last month, it was announced that Rolls-Royce SMR had secured investment to bring the project forward. Rolls-Royce Group, BNF Resources UK Ltd and US-based Exelon Generation Ltd will invest £195m over three years, enabling the business to secure grant funding of £210m from UK Research and Innovation. The business, while continuing to seek investment, has been beginning activities such as entry to the UK Generic Design Assessment process and identifying sites for factories to manufacture the modules.

Now, it has been confirmed that Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) will take a 10 per cent stake in the venture as a result of its £85m investment. Rolls-Royce SMR is now “full funded” with a total of nearly £500m of investment, the company said. Rolls-Royce Group will retain a 70 per cent stake in the business.

Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce Group, said: “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. 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.”

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

The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “This investment is a clear vote of confidence in the UK’s global leadership in nuclear innovation and follows the £210m of government investment in the development of small modular reactors. 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.”

Qatar is the largest owner of London property, including the Shard, the Olympic Village, the site of Chelsea Barracks, Claridges, Harrods, and many other luxury venues. Companies accepting investment from QIA have been criticised for turning a blind eye to Qatar’s permissive attitude to funding of terrorism, conditions for migrant workers widely characterised as modern slavery, flogging and stoning as criminal sanctions, and the death penalty for homosexuality.

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