Rolls-Royce enlists Exelon to help deploy SMRs

10 November 2020

Rolls-Royce and US utility Exelon Generation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to pursue the potential for Exelon to operate small modular reactors (SMRs) both in the UK and internationally. The announcement came as the British engineering company also signed an MoU with Czech utility ČEZ to explore the potential for SMRs in the Czech Republic. The consortium comprises Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O'Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Rolls-Royce and TWI.

An artist's impression of the UK SMR (Image: Rolls-Royce)

Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium that has designed the UK SMR, a small pressurised water reactor that they say will be able to operate for 60 years and provide 440 MWe. To minimise the construction phase of the programme, the UK SMR is fully modularised to enable the plant to be transported by road, rail or sea. Targeting a 500-day modular build, they say this concept minimises the onsite time and effort required to construct and build the plant. The target cost for each station is GBP1.8 billion (USD2.4 billion) by the time five have been built, with further savings possible, they say.

The power plants will be built by the UK SMR consortium, before being handed over to be operated by power generation companies. Exelon Generation will work closely with the consortium during the pre-operation period. "Exelon will add valuable operational experience to the team," Rolls-Royce said. It noted the utility operates 21 reactors in the USA, generating more than 158 TWh of clean electricity annually.

Tom Samson, interim CEO of the UK SMR Consortium, said: "Complementing our existing consortium partnerships with one of the world's largest nuclear operator adds an important dimension to our growth ambitions, embodies the strength of the UK and USA alliance on nuclear matters and offers our future customers the ability to achieve the highest performance standards associated with Exelon's outstanding operational track record."

Rolls-Royce has already signed a number of MoU with overseas utilities and organisations to cooperate on SMRs. Yesterday it announced the signing of an MoU with Czech utility ČEZ to explore the potential for SMRs in the Czech Republic. In March, Turkey's state-owned EUAS International ICC signed an MoU with Rolls-Royce to evaluate the technical, economical and legal applicability of SMRs. In addition, they will consider the possibility of joint production of such reactors. In November 2017, Rolls-Royce signed an MoU with state-owned Jordan Atomic Energy Commission to conduct a technical feasibility study for the construction of a Rolls-Royce SMR in the Middle Eastern country.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News