Small modular reactors (SMRs) are touted to play an important role in the UK’s evolving energy mix, providing low-carbon thermal baseload to complement the increasing share of renewables on the grid. The UK consortium, led by Rolls-Royce, is seeking to develop a compact, aesthetically pleasing power station design that can be manufactured in factories and assembled on site, blending into its surroundings. This latest iteration involved more than 200 engineering decisions and resulted in an increase in power output from 440MW to 470MW, without incurring any additional costs.
“As a consortium we’re seeking to refresh the image of the energy sector with a contemporary and sustainable design that takes pride in its aesthetics and environmental awareness while supporting delivery of ambitious net zero commitments,” said Peter Sell, chief design engineer for UK SMR at Atkins, which drove the latest phase.
UKSMR is planning to deliver its first unit in the early 2030s, with a fleet of up to 10 in place by the middle of the decade. As well as delivering for the domestic market, the consortium also plans to pitch the design abroad as governments around the world push to meet the climate targets set out in the Paris Agreement. A key component of the design’s appeal is its low, sleek profile, something which should help it blend into its environment and gain acceptance from councils and residents on the local level.
“Nuclear power is central to tackling climate change, economic recovery and energy security,” said Tom Samson, chief executive officer at the UKSMR Consortium. “To do this it must be affordable, reliable and investable and the way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings downs its costs to be comparable with offshore wind at around £50 per megawatt-hour.
“As we reach the end of our first phase, I’m proud that our team has designed a product that can be commoditised to provide the scale required to be a key part of the world’s decarbonisation efforts. We are ready to go and hope to be first in line to start the rigorous Generic Design Assessment process in the autumn of this year.”