Rolls-Royce visits two potential UK sites for its first SMRs

17 January 2023

UK company Rolls-Royce SMR has visited the sites of the decommissioned Oldbury and Berkeley NPP reactors in Gloucestershire (southwest UK) for talks with stakeholders from communities around the plants. The two unit Berkeley NPP was closed in 1988-89, and the two unit Oldbury plant in 2011-12, and are now the responsibility of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

These are two of several sites which Rolls-Royce shortlisted for its ‘first wave’ of planned small modular reactors (SMRs) in November 2022. Rolls-Royce identified four sites with the potential to deploy multiple units: Trawsfynydd (requiring agreement with NDA and the Welsh Government); Sellafield (NDA land availability to be confirmed); Wylfa - South (requiring agreement with Horizon Nuclear Power); and Oldbury - North (also requiring agreement with Horizon Nuclear Power).

In addition, four other sites were identified which needed further investigation. These include: Berkeley (requiring agreement with the Berkeley Estate); Hartlepool NPP (requiring agreement with EDF Energy); Heysham NPP (requiring agreement with EDF Energy); and Bradwell - North/East (requiring agreement with CGN and EDF Energy).

Senior representatives from Rolls-Royce SMR toured both Oldbury and Berkeley for meetings with landowners, District and Local Council representatives and the Western Gateway team. Councillor Toby Savage, Vice Chair of the Western Gateway Partnership, welcomed the continued interest in Oldbury and Berkeley. “Our area has a long history of expertise in pioneering new forms of energy generation and it was good to be able to demonstrate this to our guests from Rolls-Royce SMR…. Alongside our partners, we are in the process of exploring a range of options to make sure we find the best use for these sites to unlock their potential.”

Rolls-Royce SMR’s Chief Operating Officer, David White said the visits were “an extremely important step for us – allowing us to better understand the sites, see the potential for Rolls-Royce SMRs and, most importantly, meet representatives from the communities to discuss their aspirations for bringing new nuclear to the region”.

The 470MWe Rolls-Royce SMR design is based on a small pressurised water reactor. The design was accepted for Generic Design Assessment review in March 2022 and Rolls-Royce SMR expects to receive UK regulatory approval by mid-2024. A Rolls-Royce-led UK SMR consortium aims to build 16 SMRs. The consortium - which includes Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O'Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and TWI - expects to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.

White said Rolls-Royce SMR stations “will play a significant part in guaranteeing future energy security for the UK and providing clean, affordable electricity for generations to come while supporting thousands of highly skilled jobs”. He added: “We are looking to agree a route forward with Government to enable us to start building British factories, commissioning supply chain contracts and agreeing export deals abroad as soon as possible. It is vital that we maintain the momentum we have created and move from development into deployment.”

Image: Oldbury nuclear power station (courtesy of David Bowd-Exworth/Wikimedia Commons)

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