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Holtec Britain has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with South Korea’s Hyundai E&C and UK construction and engineering companies Balfour Beatty, and Mott MacDonald. The event was hosted at the Korean Embassy in London by Ambassador Yoon Yeocheol and attended by UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Korea, Sir John Whittingdale MP.

The partnerships are a further step towards delivery of Holtec’s SMR-300 technology in the UK. The SMR-300 is a pressurised water reactor (PWR) using technology based on existing standards in the US and UK and uses PWR fuel similar to that already used at Sizewell B, and other new UK reactors under development including Hinkley Point C. Holtec has been developing its SMR since 2011. The SMR-300 has undergone several design evolutions, the most recent of which is the incorporation of forced flow capability overlayed on gravity-driven flow in the plant’s primary system.

In December 2023, Holtec Britain was awarded £30m ($37.6m) of grant funding from the UK government’s Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to complete Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the SMR-300, which was also shortlisted by Great British Nuclear (GBN) at the end of October 2023. The other five short-listed companies are Rolls Royce SMR, EDF, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy International, NuScale Power and Westinghouse Electric Company UK. If successful in the Great British Nuclear SMR competition, Holtec plans to establish a factory in the UK to build the major mechanical SMR components and support other aligned manufacturing needs in clean energy and defence sectors.

Holtec says an exercise to find the best location for a factory will be launched in the coming weeks. If established, the factory will support deployment of 5 GW of on-grid UK electricity from SMR-300 by 2050 and create a major export hub. Holtec Britain’s Senior Advisor, Professor Dame Julia King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge stated, “Holtec is committed to delivering SMRs in the UK creating high-value well-paid jobs and providing clean energy to help us reach net zero. This agreement is another important step on this journey.”

“Based on our strong partnership with Holtec, we have prepared for the GBN SMR competition with top-tier UK construction company Balfour Beatty and world class engineering firm Mott MacDonald, giving us even more confidence in our ability to successfully win the contract and execute the project,” said Young-Joon Yoon, President & CEO and of Hyundai E&C.

Balfour Beatty Group CEO Leo Quinn, said SMRs can offer a more flexible, scalable solution. He added that the partnership “is perfectly positioned to address the growing demand for clean energy in the UK and support the UK’s transition towards a Net Zero future”.

Cathy Travers, Group Managing Director of Mott MacDonald said: “International collaboration from across the nuclear industry is key to its successful deployment, which is why we are bringing decades of collective experience to bear as we explore this path with Holtec Britain and Hyundai E&C.”

Gareth Thomas, Director of Holtec Britain told Reuters: "Holtec will be investing approximately £600m in the construction, design and build of a new factory and production site over the next 15 years." Local authorities and businesses will be invited to submit expressions of interest to host the factory, outlining which sites could be available and how ready they would be for work to start on the factory. The factory could provide around 400 highly-skilled jobs in the next three-to-five years, Thomas said. Holtec already has an SMR factory in New Jersey in the USA, but believes a UK site could provide a base to export its technology to Europe and the Middle East.

Image (L-R): Rick Springman, Dame Julia King, Young-Joon Yoon, Ambassador Yoon Yeocheol, Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale, Cathy Travers & Leo Quinn

Date: Wednesday, 13 March 2024
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