Study identifies potential Rolls-Royce SMR sites

09 November 2022

A siting assessment review has identified a range of existing nuclear power plant sites in the UK that could potentially host Rolls-Royce small modular reactors (SMRs), with four sites owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) prioritised.

Trawsfynydd in Wales is one of the prioritised sites (Image: NDA)

Rolls-Royce SMR said the study is the first phase in a programme of work which is considering siting, collaboration opportunities and the socio-economic benefits of deploying Rolls-Royce SMR units on land within the NDA estate - with other locations across the UK also being evaluated.

"The work is consistent with NDA's mission to clean up the UK's earliest nuclear sites safely, securely and cost-effectively to release them for other uses - with the aim of benefiting local communities and the environment," Rolls-Royce SMR said.

It follows the announcement earlier this year from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that the NDA would work alongside interested parties, including Rolls-Royce SMR, to enable engagement on potential future nuclear developments on its sites.

Rolls-Royce SMR matched the sites against a set of assessment criteria that will enable plants to be operational by the early 2030s, including: existing geotechnical data, adequate grid connection and a site large enough to deploy multiple SMRs.

The study identified four potential land parcels where multiple SMRs could be located, equivalent to up to 15GW of capacity. Two of the sites - Trawsfynydd and land neighbouring the Sellafield site - are within the control of the NDA. The two other sites - Wylfa and Oldbury - are on NDA land leased to Horizon Nuclear Power.

Rolls-Royce SMR said the Berkeley site, which could house 4-6 SMRs (total maximum potential of 3GW), requires further investigation potential.

"Any formal commitment of NDA land, or other support, would require government approval via NDA's sponsoring department, BEIS," it noted.

The study also identified potential sites, where a total of up to 5.5GW of SMR capacity could be deployed, that are outside of the NDA's estate. These include: Hartlepool, which could house 2 SMRs; Heysham, where 3 SMRs could be deployed; and Bradwell, which could house 4-6 SMRs.

"Identifying the sites that can host our SMRs is a key step to our efficient deployment - the sooner that work can begin at site, the sooner we can deliver stable, secure supplies of low-carbon nuclear power from SMRs designed and built in the UK," said Rolls-Royce SMR CEO Tom Samson. "We must maintain this positive momentum and work with the NDA and government departments, to ensure we capitalise on the range of siting options, focusing on those that maximise benefit to the taxpayer while enabling power to come online as close to 2030 as possible."

NDA CEO David Peattie added: "This study is a tangible step forward in our mission to safely decommission our sites and free up land for future use, delivering benefit to local communities and so to the wider economy. We're engaging with several potential partners to explore the use of land in our estate whilst utilising the NDA's nuclear sector expertise to support the delivery of the UK government's energy security strategy."

The Rolls-Royce SMR is a 470 MWe design based on a small pressurised water reactor. It will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years. 90% of the SMR - about 16 metres by 4 metres - will be built in factory conditions, limiting on-site activity primarily to assembly of pre-fabricated, pre-tested, modules which significantly reduces project risk and has the potential to drastically shorten build schedules.

The design was accepted for Generic Design Assessment review in March this year with BEIS asking the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation along with the environment regulators for England and Wales to begin the process.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News