Cumbrian development company chooses Rolls-Royce SMR

11 November 2022

Newly-established development firm Solway Community Power Company has selected the Rolls-Royce small modular reactor (SMR) for deployment in West Cumbria, England. Earlier this week, it was announced that four sites in the UK, including land near the Sellafield site in Cumbria, have been prioritised to deploy the first in a fleet of Rolls-Royce SMR power plants.

The Sellafield site in Cumbria

At a launch event on 10 November hosted by Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, Solway Community Power Company CEO Paul Foster laid out the company's plans to bring Rolls-Royce SMRs to West Cumbria.

"Nuclear is a core part of our identity and heritage in West Cumbria, and we have a huge opportunity now to create new opportunities through the deployment of the Rolls-Royce SMR," Foster said. "It's not only about the jobs and supply chains needed to build and run it, it's also about the new investments and industry sectors we could attract to the region, with an energy surplus to offer.

"The critical pieces already exist, such as land that could be suitable, interest from investors, and of course the modular solution from Rolls Royce SMR. Our job at Solway is to pull it all together - and we'll be working closely with our community, who have an enduring stake in both its development and its decades of operation."

On 9 November, Rolls-Royce SMR announced that a siting assessment review had identified a range of existing nuclear power plant sites in the UK that could potentially host its SMRs, with four sites owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) prioritised. Two of the sites - Trawsfynydd and land neighbouring the Sellafield site - are within the control of the NDA. The two other sites - Wylfa and Oldbury - are on NDA land leased to Horizon Nuclear Power.

Rolls-Royce SMR said the study is the first phase in a programme of work which is considering siting, collaboration opportunities and the socio-economic benefits of deploying Rolls-Royce SMR units on land within the NDA estate - with other locations across the UK also being evaluated.

Rolls-Royce SMR CEO Tom Samson said: "By utilising land owned by the NDA in West Cumbria and partnering with Solway, we put ourselves in the strongest possible position to bring new nuclear on stream as close to 2030 as possible.

"The formation of a UK nuclear developer, committed to bringing new nuclear to West Cumbria, is excellent news and I'm delighted they have chosen to deploy Rolls-Royce SMRs - the UK's sovereign nuclear technology."

The Rolls-Royce SMR is a 470 MWe design based on a small pressurised water reactor. It will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years. Some 90% of the SMR - which is about 16 metres by 4 metres - will be built in factory conditions, limiting on-site activity primarily to assembly of pre-fabricated, pre-tested, modules which significantly reduces project risk and has the potential to drastically shorten build schedules.

The design was accepted for Generic Design Assessment review in March this year with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy asking the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation along with the environment regulators for England and Wales to begin the process.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News