Rolls-Royce unveils multi-million-pound Sheffield facility to develop next-gen nuclear

Rolls-Royce stated in 2020 that its ambition is to bring 16 of the SMRs online across the UK by 2025.

The new facility, located within the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s Factory 2050 facilities, will manufacture and test prototype modules for Rolls-Royce SMR power plants.

The initial phase of the project, valued at £2.7m, is part of a wider £15m investment aimed at mitigating risks and supporting the Rolls-Royce SMR programme.

Rolls-Royce stated in 2020 that its ambition is to bring 16 of the SMRs online across the UK by 2025. It touts a 60-year lifespan for each reactor and claims each one is capable of powering more than one million homes.

A key selling point of SMRs is that they would be quicker to deliver than large-scale nuclear plants and that they would have less of an impact on local communities.

Rolls-Royce SMR’s chief manufacturing engineer Victoria Scott said: “Our factories will produce hundreds of prefabricated and pre-tested modules ready for assembly on site.

“This facility will allow us to refine our production, testing and digital approach to manufacturing – helping de-risk our programme and ensure we increase our delivery certainty.”

Nuclear Industry Association’s chief executive Tom Greatrex said: “This partnership is vital to reigniting Britain’s nuclear capabilities on a domestic and global stage.

“It will strengthen the wider nuclear supply chain and shows the importance of maximising UK nuclear content as we develop a programme of new power stations to strengthen energy security and green our power grid.”

Strategic plans needed

The Government aims to phase out all unabated fossil fuel electricity generation by 2035, while hosting up to 24 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear generation capacity by 2050.

Earlier this year, a cross-party group of MPs urged the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Claire Coutinho to clarify the Government’s strategy for deploying small nuclear facilities.

The MPs have highlighted the need for detailed information on how SMRs will integrate with renewable energy sources and larger nuclear projects. These details were absent from the launch of Great British Nuclear, a new industry body with an initial £150m SMR funding competition.

Nor were these details provided through the recently published Civil Nuclear Roadmap, which commits the Government to secure final investment decisions on 3-7GW of nuclear every five years between 2030 and 2044.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has also raised concerns about the cost-effectiveness and potential environmental impact of SMRs, noting that current model planning could lead to increased waste for storage and reprocessing.

Comments (1)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    As an oldie who watched, (on television at AERE Harwell), the late Queen switch on the power at Calder Hall, this development is just that which we need in our UK power system.
    More power to all your elbows!!

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