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Tom Samson CEO, Rolls-Royce SMR

UAE - Energy & Mining

Tom Samson

CEO, Rolls-Royce SMR

Bio

The CEO of Rolls-Royce SMR Limited, Tom Samson has over 30 years of experience in the power industry in various senior level executive positions in the UK and internationally. He began his career as a chartered engineer at GEC Alstom designing combined cycle gas-fired power plants before joining Marubeni Corporation where he undertook a number of CEO and board-level assignments in the UAE and US. His first major role in the nuclear industry came when he joined ENEC in the UAE as the COO. He later returned to the UK as CEO & board member of NuGeneration. In early 2020, Samson joined Rolls-Royce to lead its SMR consortium.

"We designed the Rolls-Royce SMR to be low cost, deployable, scalable, and investable."
Rolls-Royce SMR is bringing to the market a radically different way of providing customers with low-cost nuclear energy solutions that are more digestible, smaller, and easily deployed.
Can you elaborate on Rolls-Royce SMR’s mandate to decarbonize itself, the region, and the world?

Rolls-Royce SMR (RR SMR) is a new business, launched in November 2021. The business is supported by UK Government grant funding from UK Research and Investment (UKRI), alongside equity from Rolls-Royce, QIA, Constellation, and BNF Resources. Each of our small modular reactors will provide enough clean energy to power 1 million homes for 60 years—and they will cost one-10th of conventional nuclear projects, so the product is hugely important in the global effort to lower carbon emissions. We are focused on bringing the Rolls-Royce SMR technology to market—both in the UK and overseas as a major export opportunity. What we are bringing to the market is a radically different way of delivering nuclear energy. Our factory-built, commoditized turnkey solution will allow us to provide customers with nuclear energy that is deployable, investable, and scalable.

Could you elaborate on the technology and its feasibility?

Rolls-Royce has been building nuclear reactors for 60 years, providing the technology to the UK Navy’s submarine fleet. We wanted to design something new for commercial application. This is a standard pressurized water reactor, we are not trying to create a different type of nuclear technology, but to reduce the cost and time to bring nuclear stations to market. What makes the Rolls-Royce SMR method new and radical is our factory-built and commoditized approach. It is a unique way of building power stations that overcomes many problems of the past and will create a way for governments to quickly deploy new nuclear power stations.

How did you tackle regulation and bureaucracy with this technology and make it more accessible?

We have secured GBP490 million through UKRI funding and private sector investment to progress the design with the UK regulatory authorities. The UK has some of the highest regulatory requirements in the world, so our design is going through a high standard of testing, which we think will help as we try to enter global markets. Rolls-Royce SMR supports the significant work of the IAEA in promoting regulatory harmonization, which is an important step to avoid the need for wholesale repetition of regulation in each country and would mean nations can deploy clean energy as quickly as possible.

What are some of the benefits of SMR?

We designed the Rolls-Royce SMR to be low cost, deployable, scalable, and investable. As well as having capacity to provide clean energy for national grids, we want energy-intensive companies that have huge energy demands, like data centers, to be able use it. For example, we could provide a dedicated power supply and backup units to support data centers. Rolls-Royce SMRs will also be able to drive production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels and green hydrogen. Our SMRs are designed to produce power for 60 years. It is a huge volume of energy that can be deployed for a diverse variety of applications.

How do you see the UAE’s progress and commitment to CO2 net zero?

The UAE is a leader in the region with its programs in 2008 and 2009. It has created the environment to bring in FDI and build its generational fleet. The region can both attract capital and demonstrate the technology, innovation, and leadership with its energy solutions.

How do you see Rolls-Royce SMR contributing to the global demands for development and energy transition?

There is a priority across the world to find a mix of clean energy solutions that can provide power for generations to come whilst achieving climate targets. There is a major role for companies who can provide low-cost nuclear solutions—and Rolls-Royce SMR is uniquely placed to help meet that demand both in the UK and internationally.

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