UK-based clean energy company Shearwater Energy Ltd is developing a wind-SMR (small modular reactor) and hydrogen production hybrid energy project in North Wales.

Shearwater has selected US SMR technology being developed by NuScale Power to provide base load and load-following energy for the proposed hybrid energy project.

Shearwater said the project is also expected to produce over 3 million kilograms of green hydrogen per year for use by the UK’s transport sector, ensuring full utilisation of the energy produced. Shearwater has also submitted an outline proposal to the UK Government and the devolved governments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Shearwater has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NuScale Power to further collaborate in advancing the project.

Under the MOU, Shearwater and NuScale will generally explore opportunities for the combined generation of nuclear power based on NuScale’s technology, offshore wind energy and hydrogen production at sites in the UK, with a flagship opportunity being explored at Wylfa on Anglesey.

NuScale will also specifically support Shearwater as it continues to develop the project, including conducting project-specific engineering, planning, and licensing activities for their SMR technology. NuScale’s assessment of the UK supply chain concluded that more than 75% of the content of a NuScale plant could be sourced within the UK. Both parties are committed to further exploring UK companies’ capabilities to participate in maximising the UK content of this project.

“Combining low-carbon generating technologies enables us to achieve similar performance characteristics to large thermal plants without the high cost, long construction time and environmental legacy”, explained Shearwater CEO Simon Forster. “When fully developed, an SMR-wind plant at Wylfa will provide 3GW of reliable, zero-carbon electricity at a fraction of the cost of a conventional nuclear power station with surplus energy generation focused on the production of hydrogen to support the transport sector’s transition to low-carbon fuels. Power generation at Wylfa could begin as early as 2027.”

NuScale Chairman and CEO John Hopkins said Shearwater Energy understands the unique challenges facing the energy needs of the UK. “NuScale looks forward to demonstrating the innovative features of our SMR design, and how our load following capability is a perfect complement to Shearwater’s offshore wind project as the country seeks to meet its clean energy goals.”

Shearwater said that, given the UK’s recently announced plans to rapidly expand offshore wind capacity by 2030 and invest in SMR development to meet net-zero carbon emissions goals by 2050, a Shearwater-NuScale wind-nuclear energy system “will provide reliable, load following power to overcome intermittency and grid stability issues”. Additionally, green hydrogen produced by a Shearwater-NuScale wind-nuclear energy system will support industry, transport, power and homes providing a further opportunity for decarbonisation and affordable energy security.

NuScale in August 2020 became the first SMR to receive design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In the USA, NuScale’s power company customer UAMPS expects to be breaking ground in 2023 on its first project sited in the state of Idaho.