Rolls-Royce and Cavendish Nuclear on 8 July signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore opportunities to deepen their relationship through cooperation on the Rolls-Royce SMR programme. Rolls-Royce and Cavendish Nuclear have committed to working together to develop the roles that Cavendish Nuclear can perform in the design, licensing, manufacturing and delivery aspects of the Rolls-Royce factory-fabricated small modular nuclear power plant.

Among the opportunities to explore will be Cavendish Nuclear’s capabilities in engineering design; validation and verification; and the provision of manufacturing facilities and capability for aspects of the SMR plant manufacture. This will involve exercising the broad set of technical and manufacturing capabilities and facilities that UK-owned Cavendish Nuclear has within its portfolio.

The agreement was signed by Rolls-Royce in its role as consortium leader on the programme that has been working on the design of the power station for the last two years with support from the UK government through UK Research and Innovation. The consortium comprises UK nuclear industry brands including Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Rolls-Royce, Jacobs, The Welding Institute (TWI) and Nuclear AMRC. Rolls Royce says the MOU brings additional capabilities to the UK SMR programme and adds world class manufacturing and design capabilities to strengthen and complement those already within the current supply chain partners. 

The Rolls-Royce SMR , is a radically different approach to delivering new nuclear power and takes advantage of factory built modularisation techniques to drastically reduce the amount of on-site construction and can deliver a low cost nuclear solution that is competitive with renewable alternatives.

The Rolls-Royce SMR will provide long term, guaranteed, low carbon power to support both on-grid electricity as well as a range of off-grid clean energy solutions to support the decarbonisation of industry and the production of clean fuels to support the energy transition in the wider heat and transportation sectors.

Tom Samson, CEO of the Rolls-Royce SMR Consortium, said: “Our SMR programme has been designed to deliver clean affordable energy for all and does so with a revolutionary new approach aimed at commoditising the delivery of nuclear power through a factory build modularisation programme.” He added: “Cavendish Nuclear, and its parent Babcock International Group, have unique capabilities within the UK industry with their world class manufacturing and modularisation capabilities at their facilities at Rosyth as well as their wider nuclear skill set delivering engineering and manufacturing solutions across the new build and decommissioning landscape.” He noted the export potential of the SMR.

Dominic Kieran, Managing Director of Cavendish Nuclear said, “We believe new nuclear build has a critical role to play in achieving the energy system decarbonisation required to address the challenge of climate change. We see the Rolls-Royce SMR programme as a really exciting opportunity for UK technology and the UK supply chain to make a major contribution to achieving net zero both in the UK and internationally.”

The Rolls-Royce led-UK SMR Consortium aims to build 16 SMRs, each with a generation capacity of 470 MWe that could produce around 20% of UK grid energy by 2050. In May, Rolls-Royce announced that it aimed to start the UK regulatory process for its SMR this autumn. The announcement followed the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's opening of the Generic Design Assessment to advanced nuclear technologies. The consortium is expected to be the first advanced design to be assessed in the second half of 2021.