Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Rolls-Royce plans to bring its factory-built nuclear plants to Gulf

Rolls-Royce's design for its small modular reactor Rolls-Royce SMR/Cover Images via Reuters
Rolls-Royce's design for its small modular reactor
  • UK company wants to create ‘global fleet’ of small modular reactors
  • First power plant set to be operational by the early 2030s

Rolls-Royce is eyeing opportunities to bring its nuclear reactors to the Middle East as part of the region’s efforts to combat climate change.

The UK industrial company is developing a small modular reactor (SMR) that uses pressurised water reactor technology, with the reactor components built in factory conditions and assembled on site.

Nine-tenths of a Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factories and a significant portion could be delivered by a UAE supply chain, according to Harry Keeling, head of industrial markets at Rolls-Royce.

Keeling said: “We will have a suite of factories in every global region, and we expect to have them in the Middle East as well. It’s the supply chain that feeds into the factories, it’s the factories that feed into the global fleet of SMRs. Here in the UAE you have a combination of all of those things coming together.”

The development of Rolls-Royce’s SMR has been supported with a British government grant of about £210 million ($260 million). Funds have also come from Rolls-Royce and partners including the Qatar Investment Authority, which is providing £85 million.

Keeling explained that the company plans to have its first plant putting energy into the grid by the early 2030s. The licensing process must be completed first, which is expected in early 2025. The first factories will then be constructed in the UK.

A single Rolls-Royce SMR has the capacity to generate 470MW of energy, enough to power 1 million homes. It will occupy the footprint of two football pitches. 

Keeling said: “When we look at the countries, we’re most interested in, for us it’s countries that already have nuclear capabilities, countries that are looking to decarbonise and have clear decarbonisation targets, and crucially countries that want to grow are all key targets for us.

“In the UAE we’re confident that a significant portion of our plant could soon be manufactured here.”

Nuclear power is a key component of the Emirates’ strategy to reach net zero by 2050. The Barakah plant in Abu Dhabi began operations in 2021. Three of its four reactors are now connected to the national grid, with commissioning under way for the fourth. When fully operational, Barakah is expected to eliminate 22.4 million tons of carbon emissions each year.

Keeling said: “With Barakah here you have the poster child of how nuclear can be rolled out quickly. It’s by far the record and set a target for all nuclear vendors globally. So, how can we leverage what is now just a very mature capability in-country for our own programme?”

Latest articles

Nature, Undersea cables account for as much as 90 percent of Europe-Asia telecommunications, Water

Iraq and Kuwait team up for European telecom corridor

Iraq’s Informatics and Telecommunication Public Company, a division of the Ministry of Communications, has signed an agreement with Kuwait’s Zajil Telecom to create a telecommunications corridor from the Gulf region to Europe, transiting through Iraq and Turkey. The new route will pass through Iraqi sea and land ports. Iraq’s minister of communications Hayam Al-Yasiri said […]

An artist's impression of part of the Diriyah Square development

Diriyah Square planned for historic Riyadh district

A public space featuring 400 retail outlets and 100 restaurants and cafes is planned for the historic Riyadh district of Diriyah. Diriyah Square will be announced next week at the World Retail Congress in Paris and aims to attract a combination of international retail brands and local artisans.  Diriyah Gate Development Authority group CEO Jerry […]

Turkish crude steel output rose 25% year on year to 3.2 million tonnes in January

Turkish steel in the black but EU rules rankle

Turkey’s steel industry has rebounded strongly from a weak 2023, despite facing new emissions standards and competition for important markets.  Crude steel output rose 25 percent year on year to 3.2 million tonnes in January, with domestic consumption of finished steel reaching 3.5 million tonnes, a 20 percent increase.  Exports were also up, increasing 23 […]

Passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport. Air China will fly from the airport to Riyadh three times a week.

Third Chinese airline to launch flights to Saudi Arabia

Air China is set to begin flights to Riyadh in May, becoming the third Chinese airline to establish a route to Saudi Arabia. It joins China Southern and Eastern Airlines in connecting China with the kingdom.  Air China’s Airbus A330-300 will serve the Beijing-Riyadh route three times a week. The expansion in capacity between the […]