Rolls-Royce releases UK Small Modular Reactors shortlist

Seven sites are in the running for the first Rolls-Royce SMR power station which will have the capacity to generate 470MW of low carbon energy

Rolls-Royce SMR has announced a shortlist of potential locations for its first Small Modular Reactor (SMR) UK factory.

The list of sites are:

  • North East – IAMP Sunderland 
  • Forrest Park Newton Aycliffe
  • North Yorkshire – Catterick 53, Richmond
  • Wales – Gateway, Deeside
  • Yorkshire - Ferrybridge
  • Greater Lincolnshire - Grimsby & Pioneer Park, Stallingborough
  • Cumbria – Kingmoor Park, Carlisle

It will be the first of three factories to manufacture the ‘heavy vessels’ for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) power station.

The Rolls-Royce SMR power station will have the capacity to generate 470MW of low carbon energy, equivalent to more than 150 onshore wind turbines and enough to power a million homes.

The shortlist was selected against a clear set of criteria, picked from over 100 submissions from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and development agencies.

Rolls-Royce SMR Chief Executive, Tom Samson, said the response shows the ambition and appetite of the UK to build and operate a fleet of SMRs which will provide affordable, low-carbon electricity for generations to come.

“The final location will come from the shortlist and will result in significant investment, long-term high-skilled jobs and will support the UK Government’s aspirations for levelling-up," he said. 

"Today’s announcement is another example of the pace of our project and why Rolls-Royce SMR is the UK’s domestic nuclear energy champion.”

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

The other two factories will manufacture civil modules and mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) modules – which will be transported to sites and assembled into a nuclear power station that will generate 470MW of low-carbon electricity. These locations will be selected from the full list of submissions – giving all locations further opportunities to host a Rolls-Royce SMR factory.

Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, said the SMRs could be at the forefront of manufacturing components for British-made tech.

“Backed by £210m, SMRs have the potential to provide quicker and cheaper low-carbon nuclear power, and today’s announcement underlines the potential for new jobs around the country created by embracing this new technology," he said.

Jo Lappin, Chief Executive at the Cumbria LEP, welcomed Kingmoor Park's inclusion on the shortlisted sites. 

“Rolls Royce SMR’s decision confirms Cumbria’s standing as a place that has the natural assets, people, skills and knowledge to get these essential low carbon projects underway at pace," she said.

"Securing the facility would help move forward Cumbria’s clean energy generation ambitions and create long-term and high-quality jobs and supply chain opportunities. The LEP will work closely with colleagues in Kingmoor Park to present a highly persuasive case to bring the facility to Carlisle.”

Nuclear is today the second largest source of low emissions power after hydropower, with nuclear plants in 32 countries.

The lower cost, smaller size and reduced project risks of SMRs may improve social acceptance and attract private investment, and the promising technology is attracting increased support and interest in Canada, France, the UK and the US.

"SMRs could also reuse the sites of retired fossil fuel power plants, taking advantage of existing transmission, cooling water and skilled workforces," according to the IEA.

"But the successful long-term deployment of SMRs hinges on strong support from policy makers starting now, not just to mobilise investment but also to streamline and harmonise regulatory frameworks."

To reach our dedicated feature on the appeal of nuclear SMRs click here

Rolls-Royce to enter hydrogen production market

Rolls-Royce recently announced it is entering the hydrogen production market and acquiring a 54% majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer, whose innovative technology will form the basis of a new range of mtu electrolyzer products from its Power Systems division.

Based in Wismar, Germany, the early-stage technology company is developing highly efficient polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks, under the brand name Prometheus, for the cost-effective production of hydrogen.

Dr. Otto Preiss, COO and Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce Power Systems, said by developing its our own mtu electrolyzers and by taking a majority stake in Hoeller Electrolyzers, it is methodically growing its hydrogen portfolio and securing access to the technology.

"This will enable us to supply complete hydrogen solutions and make a significant contribution to protecting the climate," he said.

"Our complete hydrogen solutions will enable customers to store renewably produced energy in the form of hydrogen for use as and when required, or for further processing or onward sale.”

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