Holtec’s SMR-300 begins UK Generic Design Assessment

12 December 2023

The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), along with the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources have started a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for Holtec International’s SMR-300. The Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) made the request to the regulators following its readiness review of Holtec’s application. The review concluded that the design was ready to enter the GDA process.

The UK's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy opened the GDA process to advanced nuclear technologies, including SMRs, in May 2021. ONR said the GDA assessment for the SMR-300 “will look to actively explore opportunities to maximise the value of international regulatory collaboration and identify efficiencies in processes”. DESNZ said the application “exceeded the quality thresholds across all four assessment criteria and successfully completed the department's due diligence and governance approvals processes”.

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.

Holtec Britain announced that it had received a grant from the UK Government of £30m ($37.6m) through the Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to complete Steps 1&2 of the GDA to support possible deployment of the SMR-300 in the UK. Holtec said the GDA would proceed in parallel with its “ongoing pre-application dialogue” with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other regulators. Holtec noted that it has been a prominent supplier of goods and services to the UK nuclear programme for over 25 years and “has assembled a strong team of British companies including Mott MacDonald, along with Team Holtec’s global alliance partners, Hyundai E&C (Seoul, Korea) and Mitsubishi Electric (Kobe, Japan)”.

UK Minister for Nuclear Andrew Bowie said: “As the Government that revitalized the UK nuclear industry, committing public funds to nuclear for the first time in a generation, we’re rapidly expanding our nuclear power capacity to move towards a cleaner energy mix and help deliver net zero. Today’s news represents a multi-million investment to develop cutting-edge technology which could transform how power stations are built by making construction faster and cheaper.”

Holtec is also participating in the Great British Nuclear SMR competition. The UK Government aims to announce in 2024, which companies the government will support for technology deployment. “We are planning a large expansion in the region should Holtec be successful in the Great British Nuclear competition, locating a factory to build the major mechanical SMR components and other aligned areas of business (clean energy & defense) to support deployment of 5 GW+ of on-grid UK electricity by 2050,” Holtec said, adding that it “is committed to UK job creation by the thousands, serving as a long-term strategic partner to the UK”.

Image: Holtec’s dual-unit SMR-300 plant in perspective view (courtesy of Holtec)

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