Rolls-Royce narrows search for site of first SMR factory

04 July 2022

Rolls-Royce SMR has shortlisted six potential locations in the UK for the first of three factories for the manufacture of its small modular reactor (SMR) power plants. The first plant will produce the vessels for the 470 MWe pressurised water reactor.

A rendering of a plant based on the Rolls-Royce SMR (Image: Rolls-Royce SMR)

The company said the shortlist was selected against a clear set of criteria, picked from over 100 submissions from local enterprise partnerships and development agencies - suggesting sites across the UK where the Rolls-Royce SMR factories could be located.

The locations of the final shortlisted sites for the first plant are: Sunderland in Tyne and Wear, Richmond in North Yorkshire, Deeside in Wales, Ferrybridge in Yorkshire, Stallingborough in Lincolnshire and Carlisle in Cumbria.

Rolls-Royce SMR noted the first plant will be the largest and most complex facility of the three. "Therefore, it is important to take decisions early to enable its deployment," it said. "Construction will begin once Rolls-Royce SMR receives the go-ahead to build a fleet of SMRs in the UK."

"I would like to thank everyone who sent in a submission suggesting locations in their region for the first Rolls-Royce SMR factory," said Rolls-Royce SMR CEO Tom Samson. "The response was fantastic and shows the ambition and appetite of the UK to build and operate a fleet of SMRs which will provide affordable, low-carbon electricity for generations to come.

"The final location will come from the shortlist and will result in significant investment, long-term high-skilled jobs and will support the UK government's aspirations for levelling-up. Today's announcement is another example of the pace of our project and why Rolls-Royce SMR is the UK's domestic nuclear energy champion."

The other two factories will manufacture civils modules and mechanical electrical and plumbing modules - which will be transported to sites and assembled into a nuclear power plant.

"These locations will be selected from the full list of submissions - giving all locations further opportunities to host a Rolls-Royce SMR factory," the company noted.

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

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 - aims to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.

To minimise the construction phase of the programme, the UK SMR is fully modularised with the reactor, about 16 metres by 4 metres, able to be transported by road, rail or sea. Targeting a 500-day modular build, the consortium says this concept minimises the onsite time and effort required to construct and build the plant.

Rolls-Royce SMR says about 90% of manufacturing and assembly activities will be carried out in factory conditions, helping to maintain an extremely high-quality product, to reduce onsite disruption and to support international roll out.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News