NuScale proposes partnership for UK SMR

06 September 2017

NuScale Power of the USA has today launched an action plan for the near-term deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the UK. The plan sets out how the company will partner with UK industry to deliver a "multi-billion pound SMR venture".

Through its five-point "UK SMR Action Plan", Portland, Oregon-based NuScale said the UK and USA can work together to develop "game-changing technology for the global energy system".

SMRs offer a low-carbon, secure, cost-competitive solution to the UK's growing energy challenge, the company said. Such reactors could replace retiring coal-fired power plants and ageing nuclear plants, helping the UK meet its decarbonisation targets.

Tom Mundy, NuScale's chief commercial officer and managing director for the UK and Europe, said: "Our UK SMR Action Plan sets out a clear vision for NuScale's technology to be rolling off production lines in UK factories, generating power for UK homes in the 2020s and transforming the UK into a hub for export into a lucrative global market."

However, he added, "The window of opportunity is closing, and for the benefits of our UK vision of near-term SMR deployments to be fully realised, decisions must be taken by government now."

A UK-US partnership offers the best option for near-term delivery of SMRs, NuScale said, and its action plan builds on collaboration it has been developing with UK organisations for the past few years. It already works in strategic partnership with Ultra Electronics, collaborates with Sheffield Forgemasters via a program supported by Innovate UK, and partners with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. NuScale has also established a fully-funded internship with the University of Sheffield and Oregon State University. The UK has an opportunity to become a global leader in the development and deployment of innovative nuclear technology, seizing first-mover advantage of a UK-US partnership on SMRs, the company said.

Techno-economic assessment

Richard Harrington, the UK's secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, has said the government plans to publish a techno-economic assessment of SMRs later this year.

In response to a written question in parliament, he said the assessment was commissioned by the government "to help build the evidence base" on SMRs. The report has helped government asses the contribution SMRs could make to the UK energy supply as well as identifying the benefits and risks of SMR deployment, Harrington said.

Such an SMR venture will boost UK economic growth, productivity and wealth creation by providing high-value jobs, intellectual property rights and export opportunities, it said. The UK nuclear supply chain could provide 85% or more of content required for UK SMR deployments, it said. The UK would also be well positioned to capture a significant share of the global SMR export market, estimated to be worth up to £400 billion ($522 billion) by 2035.

An SMR could be deployed in the UK within the next ten years, NuScale said. Its SMR is a "mature design" with over $600 million and over 3.5 million person-hours already invested into it, the company added.

Its design certification application was accepted for review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this year and regulatory approval is expected in the early 2020s. The first commercial 12-module NuScale power plant is to be built on the site of the Idaho National Laboratory, will be owned by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and operated by Energy Northwest, and is expected to begin generating electricity from 2026.

NuScale's self-contained SMR design houses the reactor core, pressuriser and steam generator inside a single containment vessel. It relies on convection, not pumps, to circulate water in the primary circuit. A single module can generate 50 MWe (gross) of electricity and is just under 25 meters in length, 4.6 meters in diameter and weighs around 450 tonnes. A power plant could include as many as 12 NuScale modules to produce as much as 600 MWe (gross).

NuScale Power announced in March 2016 that it would put its SMR forward as part of the UK government's competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News