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SMR competition heats up in the UK

Five major companies have made key announcements on their plans to advance small modular reactor (SMR) deployment in the UK. While Rolls-Royce SMR shortlisted three sites for a factory to produce component for its planned SMR; Balfour Beatty and Holtec with Hyundai agreed to support plans for the construction of Holtec’s SMR-160; and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) submitted a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) application for its BWRX-300 SMR to the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The three sites shortlisted by Rolls-Royce for its heavy pressure vessels (HPV) factory are: The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Sunderland and South Tyneside (northeast England); Teesworks in Teesside (northeast England); and Gateway in Deeside (Wales). In July, Rolls-Royce SMR had named six potential locations for the factory, selected from more than 100 submissions from local enterprise partnerships and development agencies.

Rolls-Royce SMR CEO Tom Samson, said this would be the first of at least three factories and will manufacture and assemble large and most complex components for a fleet of SMRs. He added: “To ensure commercial processes move in parallel, negotiations will be initiated when Rolls-Royce SMR has entered formal discussions on deployment with the Government.”

The GBP100-200 million ($121-242m) factory is expected to cover 23,000 square metres and to create more than 200 permanent jobs. The other two factories will manufacture civils modules and mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) modules for transportation to SMR sites and assembly.

The Rolls-Royce SMR design was accepted for GDA review in March after which BEIS asking the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the environment regulators for England and Wales to begin the process. It will have the capacity to generate 470MWe and will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years. Rolls-Royce SMR aims to deploy multiple units at various sites totalling around 15GWe. The SMR is fully modularised with the reactor, some 16 by 4 metres being capable of transportation by road, rail or sea. Targeting a 500-day modular build, the firm says this concept minimises the onsite time and effort required to construct and build the plant, with about 90% of manufacturing and assembly activities carried out in factory conditions.

In November, Rolls-Royce SMR announced that a siting assessment review had identified a range of existing NPP sites in the UK as possible hosts for its SMRs, with four sites owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) prioritised. These were: Trawsfynydd (also requiring agreement with Cwmni Egino – Welsh Government); Sellafield (NDA land availability to be confirmed); Wylfa - South and Oldbury - North (both requiring agreement with Horizon Nuclear Power). Rolls-Royce identified four other sites which needed further investigation.

SMR competition heats up in the UK - Nuclear Engineering International (neimagazine.com)