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Company says response to search was ‘fantastic’ and shows ‘ambition and appetite’ The reactors could be providing power to the UK’s national grid by 2029. Courtesy Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce SMR has announced a list of potential locations for its first small modular reactor factory in the UK.

The factory will be the first of three and will be responsible for the manufacture of the heavy vessels for the engineering company’s SMR power plant.

Rolls-Royce said the planned factory will be the largest and most complex facility of the three and “it is important to take decisions early to enable its deployment”. Construction will begin once Rolls-Royce SMR receives the go-ahead to build a fleet of SMRs in the UK.

The shortlist was picked from over 100 submissions. The shortlisted sites are: Sunderland, Richmond in North Yorkshire, Deeside in Wales, Ferrybridge in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Carlisle.

Rolls-Royce SMR chief executive Tom Samson said the response was “fantastic” and shows the ambition and appetite of the UK to build and operate a fleet of SMRs.

The other two factories will manufacture civils modules and mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) modules.

The components will be transported to sites and assembled into a nuclear power station that will generate 470 MW of low-carbon electricity.

Each of the initial run of reactors is expected to enough capacity to power the equivalent of 1.3m UK homes, and cost about £2.2bn per unit, dropping to £1.8bn by the time five have been completed. This means it will be comparable with offshore wind at around £50/MWh. A single SMR power station will occupy the footprint of two football pitches.

A ‘Different Way’ Of Building Nuclear Stations

Rolls-Royce SMR said its approach is a completely different way of building nuclear power stations, with 90% of the plant built in factory conditions, significantly reducing the timescales and project risk.

Rolls-Royce has been a nuclear reactor plant designer since the start of the UK nuclear submarine programme in the 1950s. Rolls-Royce SMR will draw upon standard nuclear energy technology that has been used in 400 reactors around the world.

The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation recently announced in conjunction with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales the start of the generic design assessment (GDA) for Rolls-Royce SMR’s design. The GDA process is expected to take four to five years.

Rolls-Royce, the FTSE-100 engineering giant, established the Rolls-Royce SMR business to deploy SMRs that could be available to the UK grid by the end of the decade.

The new business was formed with investors BNF Resources and the US generator Exelon Generation with a joint investment of £195m to fund the plans over the next three years.

The government will match the consortium’s investment, which is set to receive a second phase top-up of £50m from Rolls-Royce, with £210m to help roll out the SMRs as part of the government’s 10-point plan, announced in December 2020, to kickstart the green economy over the next decade.

The 10-point plan included investing £525m to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and research and develop new advanced modular reactors.

Rolls-Royce has promised to “harness decades of British engineering, design and manufacturing knowhow” to roll out the first of its SMRs, which are based on a similar technology used to propel nuclear submarines.

The government under prime minister Boris Johnson put nuclear power at the centre of its recent energy strategy, in response to climate concerns and a desire to ditch Russian gas.

The strategy said up to eight more nuclear reactors could be delivered on existing sites as the government aims to boost UK energy independence, wean the country off expensive fossil fuels and tackle rising prices.

Date: Tuesday, 05 July 2022
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