New ‘joys’ on the horizon – small modular nuclear reactors, taken by lorry from factory to site

nuscale reactor on lorry

Andrew Bounds and Chris Tighe report in the FT that projects by foreign companies to build conventional nuclear plants are repeatedly delayed. About 400 construction workers have been laid off at Hinkley Point, as the French company EDF and its Chinese partners negotiate electricity prices with the British government.

Rolls-Royce and industry experts are asking the government to fund research into small modular nuclear reactors that could be built in the UK and taken from factory to site on the back of a lorry. The government agreed to study the feasibility of the technology after a committee of MPs called for more research in March.

In contrast with the £24.5bn required for Hinkley Point, earmarked to open in 2023, an SMR could cost less than £1bn and take only 5-7 years to build. Each unit would have up to 300MW power and several could be deployed together to create mini-power stations. The two Areva reactors being installed at Hinkley have capacity of 1650MW.

nuscaleSheffield University has already begun work with NuScale, a US company, on a design. There could be a “very significant market for SMRs”, said the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory, in a December report: “The UK could gain a lead in the technology and a market that could be worth £250bn-£400bn between now and 2035”.

Rolls-Royce and Sheffield Forgemasters already provide parts for SMRs and other nuclear reactors worldwide.

Nuscale’s design, engineering, licensing, testing, operations, and project management) is located in Corvallis, Oregon. It is majority-owned by Fluor Corporation which is has large nuclear waste cleanup ccontracts.

Its website relates that NuScale Power has created a smaller, scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology, designed with natural safety features. Natural forces operate and cool the plant. This eliminates the need for many of the large and complex systems required in today’s nuclear plants. This simplicity allows the NuScale Power Module(tm) to be factory-built and transported to site. NuScale plants are faster to construct, and less expensive to build and operate.

Each NuScale Power Module generates 50 megawatts of electric power (gross). Additional modules can be added, providing scalability as electricity demand grows.

NuScale’s 160MW thermal output also makes it a perfect fit for refining, desalination, and district heating.

Learn more about NuScale Power Technology here.

British-based research collaborators include Amec, the civil engineering business, Manchester University and University of Sheffield’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.


Posted on April 8, 2015, in Economy, Environment, Finance, Government, Lobbying, MPs, Planning, Vested interests and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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