Rolls-Royce Enlists Exelon to Help Deploy 16 440MW PWR

  • Rolls Royce Inks MOU with Excelon for 440MW Reactors in UK
  • Rolls-Royce Signs New Build Nuclear Energy MOU with CEZ
  • NuScale Bumps Up Power Rating of its SMR
  • Holtec Accelerates US NRC Design Certification for SMR-160
  • UK / US Consortium In Talks To Take Over Wylfa Development
  • Multinational Team to Develop MSR-based Marine Reactor

Rolls-Royce Enlists Exelon to Help Deploy 16 440MW PWRs

rolls royve logoRolls-Royce and Exelon Generation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to pursue the potential for Exelon Generation to operate compact nuclear power stations both in the UK and internationally. Exelon Generation will be using their operational experience to assist Rolls Royce in the development and deployment of the UKSMR.

The firm says that once it has orders for at least five of them, it can deliver each unit for about $2.2 billion. It has plans to build a fleet of them at existing nuclear power stations in the UK starting in the early 2030s.

The consortium is working with its partners and UK Government to secure a commitment for a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations, each providing 440MW of electricity, to be operational within a decade, helping the UK meet its net zero obligations.

A fleet deployment in the UK will lead to the creation of new factories that will make the components and modules which will help the economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and pave the way for significant export opportunities as well. Rolls-Royce has touted the plan for its ability to create thousands of new jobs.

The consortium members feature the best of nuclear engineering, construction and infrastructure expertise in Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Rolls-Royce and TWI. Exelon will add valuable operational experience to the team.

Tom Samson, interim Chief Executive Officer of the UKSMR consortium, said: “Nuclear power is central to tackling climate change and economic recovery, but it must be affordable, reliable and investable and the way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings its cost down to be comparable with offshore wind.

The power stations will be built by the UKSMR 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 Nuclear operates 21 nuclear reactors in America. Rolls-Royce has already signed a number of MoU with overseas utilities and organizations to cooperate on SMRs.

16 PWRs by the Numbers

The Rolls Royce plant is a mid -size reactor in the same power range as early versions of the CANDU type reactors built for India. The PWR design will have the advantage of being able to get a supply chain in place without a lot of custom fabrication of components and fuels.

The Rolls Royce design is actually larger than what is considered by the IAEA as an SMR. The upper limit by the agency is 300 MW. The Rolls Royce design comes in at 400-450 MW. This makes it more of a mid-size reactor.

rr coolIt is a three loop, close-coupled, Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) provides a power output at circa 400-450 MWe from 1200- 1350 MWth using industry standard UO2 fuel.

Coolant is circulated via three centrifugal Reactor Coolant Pumps (RCPs) to three corresponding vertical u-tube Steam Generators (SGs). The design includes multiple active and passive safety systems, each with substantial internal redundancy. (See image right)

Funding Scenarios

Getting funding for 16 of these units is an entirely different story. Assuming the plants cost $4,000/Kw, a 440 MW(e) unit will require $1.76 billion. So, 16 units, absent calculations for inflation or factory production cost savings, over time, will cost $28.2 billion providing just over 7 GW(e) of electrical power.

The UK has had multiple setbacks in it grand plan for deploying fully size reactors. Moorside (three Westinghouse AP1000s or 3.3 GW(e), Wylfa (two Hitachi ABWRs or 2.7 GW(e), and Oldbury (two Hitachi ABWRs or 2.7 GW(e) have all hit the brakes over the UK government’s inability to come to terms with the need for robust financial plans to pay for the projects.


Conceptual drawing of a Rolls Royce 440MW PWR plant. Image: Rolls Royce.

If all of these plants had been built, they would have had a cumulative effect of adding 8.7 GW(e) of electrical power to the UK grid at a cost of $34.8 billion.

It follows that the Rolls Royce plan at $28.2 billion for 7 GW(e) of power comes close and might be easier to execute assuming factory production of major long lead time components gets an early start.

The consortium says the first of these modular plants could be up and running in 10 years, after that it will be able to build and install two a year.

Government Dithers while the Planet Burns

The sticking point has been the political decision making, or lack of it, by the UK government over taking equity positions in new nuclear projects and paying vendors that are building the plants on a cost/performance basis, e.g., pay as you go rather than turnkey payment on completion. Also, while the government has talked a lot about the so-called RAB method, it hasn’t put a policy in place to use it. So far the government has put up about $20M for design work on the 440 MW unit.

What is a regulated asset base funding model? A RAB model is used to incentivize private investment into public projects by providing a secure payback and return on investment for developers. Within this mechanism, energy companies manage the infrastructure project, taking ownership of the assets and operating costs. It has been used successfully in the UK for very large civil infrastructure projects and is being considered as a model finance mechanism by other countries.

The UK SMR Consortium said it is working with its partners and UK Government to secure a financial commitment for a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations in the UK, with exports of the design being explored in tandem. The government has said it will issue a revised policy on nuclear energy soon, but has been distracted by a rapid rise on cases of the COVID19 virus.

According to the BBC, PM Boris Johnson is rumored to be planning to take a big policy decision on nuclear power. His government has always said new nuclear is going to be a key part of Britain’s future energy system. According to the BBC, Johnson will the long-discussed new large nuclear plant at Sizewell in Suffolk the go-ahead.PM Johnson is expected to say these investments are essential if the UK is going to meet its promise to decarbonize the economy by 2050 as part of the worldwide effort to tackle climate change.

UKSMR is pitching its PWR concept reactor as a UK solution to the global challenge of tackling climate change and says there will be a vast export market as the world starts to switch to low carbon energy.

GDR Awaits for Rolls Royce

Next steps for Rolls Royce, once the design is complete, is to enter it in the UK nuclear safety regulatory Generic Design Assessment Process. At the same time, Rolls Royce said, it will begin to develop the supply chain for what it hopes will be a fleet of these types of units.

The GDR can take four years and construction for the FOAK could easily be a three year journey. Best estimate for the first commercial unit being in revenue service would be by the early 2030s.  While the firm said it would target existing nuclear sites for the plants, it did not specify any commitments from electric utilities to buy one of the units. Such a commitment would be crucial for gaining investor confidence.

Rolls-Royce Signs New Build Nuclear Energy MOU with CEZ

Rolls-Royce and CEZ have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the potential for compact nuclear power stations, known as small modular reactors (UKSMR), to be built in the Czech Republic.

Daniel Beneš, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of CEZ, said: “New energy solutions and technologies play an important role in our business and we have been focusing on small modular reactors for quite some time now, especially in our top research company UJV Rež.

In the future, they can be an important alternative that we cannot ignore. The partnership with Rolls-Royce and other global companies is therefore a logical step in our endeavor.”

CEZ, which is the state-owned nuclear electric utility, has plans to build a 1200 MW nuclear plant at its Dukovany site.  CEZ will launch the tender for a supplier, the result of which should be known at the end of 2022.

Rolls-Royce is leading the UK SMR Consortium, Its plans include a standardized, factory-made components and advanced manufacturing processes to push down costs; and the rapid assembly of the modules inside a weatherproof canopy at the power station site itself speeds up schedules.

NuScale Bumps Up Power Rating of its SMR

Based on new analyses, the NuScale Power Module is able to increase its power output to 77 MWe and offer power plants with multiple units in 300-460 MWe ranges to meet varying power needs of customers

NuScale Power announced that through further value engineering efforts, using advanced testing and modeling tools, NuScale analyzed and concluded that the NuScale Power Module (NPM) can generate an additional 25 percent more power per module for a total of 77 MWe per module (gross), resulting in about 924 MWe for the flagship 12-module power plant.


Additionally, NuScale is announcing options for smaller power plant solutions in four-module (about 308 MWe) and six-module (about 462 MWe) sizes.

“Without impacting the unparalleled safety of our design, our engineers have proven yet again that NuScale’s technology is first-class, and can offer significant cost-savings and customization at a level yet to be seen in the nuclear energy market,” said NuScale Power Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins.

Increasing the power generating capacity of a 12-module NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) plant by an additional 25 percent lowers the overnight capital cost of the facility on a per kilowatt basis from an expected $3,600 to approximately $2,850. As NuScale has yet to build any units, this number is probably based on factory production of reactors after the first of a kind (FOAK) is completed.

NuScale claims for its change to the design to offer smaller power plant solutions will give NuScale customers more options in terms of size, power output, operational flexibility, and cost. The firm says he increased power output comes without any major changes to the NPM technology. They will also have a smaller and innovative footprint with a focus on simplifying construction, reducing construction duration (schedule) and lowering costs.

This new solution allows NuScale to support a larger cross-section of customer needs including power for small grids such as for island nations; remote off-grid communities; industrial and government facilities; and replacement of coal-fueled generation that require less power and help customers meet clean air mandates. The concept of replacing coal boilers with SMRs has gotten a lot of attention in EU countries which rely heavily on coal plants for electricity.

The regulatory process of increasing the level of maximum reactor power at which a nuclear plant can operate is referred to as a power uprate. The power increase will be reviewed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as part of NuScale’s Standard Design Approval (SDA) application, which NuScale is scheduled to submit in 2022.

Holtec Accelerates US NRC Design Certification for SMR-160

Holtec International said that its drive to secure design certification for its SMR-160 small modular reactor from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was “on an accelerated schedule.”

smr-160At a kickoff meeting with the NRC officials on September 30, Holtec presented a licensing roadmap that envisages a seamless progression from Part 50 to Part 52, and a Licensing Topical Report (LTR) submittal schedule to support an accelerated availability plan.

However, the firm did not disclose details of the roadmap nor the chedule during the public portion of its NRC meeting on 09/30/20.

The greater part of the meeting, about three hours, was held in closed session due to the proprietary nature of the technical  information presented by Holtec.  The NRC listed references to the public presentation slides on its ADAMS library, but did not post the slides themselves.

At the September 30, 2020 public meeting (summary in ML20288A210), the open session covered key principles of the SMR-160, including passive operation, near-zero site boundary dose, maximum factory fabrication and minimal site construction to reduce costs. The closed session agenda included a design overview of the SMR-160 major systems including:

  • Reactor coolant system, the reactor core
  •  Instrumentation and Controls
  •  Major structures
  •  Inherently safe design features, including passive safety systems
  •  Low core damage frequency
  • Plant response to loss of coolant accidents
  •  Pre-application topical report topics and submittal timeframe
  •  Application submittal timeframe

Holtec said the SMR-160 PCCS, referred to as the Emergency Core Cooling System, is an innovative embodiment that ensures the SMR-160 plant’s safety during postulated accidents. “An essential aspect of the PCCS is its reliance on redundant, diverse, and passive heat removal systems”.

Holtec completed the Vendor Design Review Phase 1 in Canada earlier this year and is currently planning the next step in the Canadian design approval process. Holtec submitted its pre-applications documents in July 2018.

The SMR-160 is a small modular pressurized light-water reactor, which generates 160MWe (525MWth). The plant safety systems that access the SMR-160 cooling water reserve are passive, meaning they operate under the force of gravity to enable rejection of the waste heat generated from reactor operations.

International Development Plans for the SMR-160

In the UK Holtec has joined a consortium with 15 major companies to establish the Moorside Clean Energy Hub in North West England. At the center of the Hub’s plan is a number of nuclear projects at Moorside, including a new UK-EPR pressurized water reactor together with potentially a clutch of small modular reactors and other innovative technologies.

Discussions are also underway with nuclear policy makers in India to deploy SMR-160s  to generate geographically dispersed clean energy. With its small footprint (4.5 acres per reactor) and its ability to be operated without a natural water source, SMR-160 provides a solution that may be attractive to meeting India’s energy needs.

“We are poised to build major components for SMR-160 locally to accord with Prime Minister Modi’s national manufacturing drive,“ says Holtec’s SVP Jyoti Chatterjee based in Pune, India.

The development of SMR-160 has been led since 2013 by Thomas Marcille, previously of Los Alamos National Lab and NuScale Power. MEPPI, the U.S. subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric Company (Japan) and Kiewit Engineers and Constructors of Kansas City are key partners. SVP Pierre Oneid and SVP Jyoti Chatterjee are in charge of SMR-160’s adoption efforts in North America and Asia, respectively

UK / US Consortium in Talks To Take Over Wylfa Development

(NucNet) A group of US companies has reportedly approached the UK government about taking over the development of a nuclear power station at Wylfa in north Wales.

News media reports in the UK said global engineering and construction giant Bechtel will lead the consortium as EPC and will be joined by utility Southern and nuclear technology provider Westinghouse, which designed and manufactures the AP1000 reactor technology. The Westinghouse AP1000 has completed the UK GDR regulatory process and is approved from a safety perspective to be built in the UK.

wylfa location

Map showing the location in the UK of the proposed Wylfa nuclear project. Image: Horizon Nuclear

The Financial Times reported that talks about taking over the project began in September after Japanese company Hitachi pulled out of the project. Hitachi announced that it was scrapping plans to build two UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at the site, blaming the lack of a viable financing structure and the uncertainties looming over BREXIT as the reasons.

The Financial Times reported that the consortium’s plans could deliver power to the electricity grid on both a similar timescale to that proposed by Horizon and at “a market competitive price” per megawatt hour, despite switching to a different reactor technology.

“A deal over Wylfa would be dependent on the UK government introducing a new funding model for large nuclear projects in the UK and the US consortium striking an agreement to acquire the site on Anglesey from Hitachi, which spent about GBP2 billion on developing the Wylfa project,” the newspaper said.

The reported development on Wylfa comes with prime minister Boris Johnson set to lay out a “10-point plan” explaining how the UK will meet its 2050 climate commitments.

Sizewell C is now the only new-build project in the UK for which planning permission is being sought. Three projects – Wylfa, Moorside and Oldbury – have either been cancelled or shelved, while Bradwell remains in the early technical stages.

The Bradwell project is slated to included two or three Hualong One PWRS to be built by Chinese state owned enterprises. The arrangement is that permission to build the Chinese plants is part of the deal that brought Chinese equity investments in the Hinkley Point C (33%) and Sizewell C (20%) projects. That plan has come under review by China following a decision by UK PM Johnson to eject a Chinese telecommunications firm from bidding on the UK 5G wireless network.

The main obstacle to new-build has been finding the right financing package. The nuclear industry has been calling for the introduction of the regulated asset base (RAB) proposal for the financing of nuclear plants. The government has already said the model has the potential to reduce the cost of raising private finance.

The Times newspaper reported recently that EDF wants a tax on UK household energy bills to help pay for Sizewell C, with other options including the British government taking an equity stake.

Multinational Team to Develop MSR-based Marine Reactor

(WNN)  A multinational team says it has plans to develop MSR-based marine reactor. A team including Core Power (UK) Ltd, Southern Company, TerraPower and Orano USA has applied to take part in cost-share risk reduction awards under the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to build a proof-of-concept for a medium-scale commercial-grade marine reactor based on molten salt reactor (MSR) technology.

Over the next few decades, as many as 60,000 ships must transition from combustion of fossil fuels to zero-emission propulsion, London-based Core Power said.

The United Nations International Maritime Organization has mandated that shipping must reduce emissions by 50% of the 2008 total, before 2050, it said, which will mean an actual emission reduction of almost 90% by that time.

MSR technology being developed by the consortium could achieve that goal, by powering production of green sustainable fuels for smaller ships and providing onboard electric power for large ships, “with zero emissions as standard”, Core Power said.

“The implications of the MSR for transport and industry could be transformational, as we seek to build scale-appropriate technology and broad acceptance of modern and durable liquid-fueled atomic power to shape the future of how we deal with climate change,” Core Power Mikal Bøe said.

The MSR can be the technology that forms the start of “a second atomic era, where climate change is the main driver of powerful, inexpensive, and safe new energy solutions”, the company said.

Caveats Ahoy

Commercial shipping interests were not quite as enthusiastic about the idea. One source told an industry trade publication that international trans-oceanic shipping involving the operation of a nuclear reactor would be restricted to routes where navies could assure ships security from piracy. Also, the initial application might be for intercoastal shipping rather than ocean spanning shipping due to the relatively lower power of the SMR type MSR design.

History of NS Savannah

The NS Savannah was the first nuclear-powered merchant ship. She was built in the late 1950s at a cost of $46.9 million (including a $28.3 million nuclear reactor and fuel core) and launched on July 21, 1959. She was funded by United States government agencies. Savannah was a demonstration project for the potential use of nuclear energy.


The ship was named after SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic ocean. She was in service between 1962 and 1972 as one of only four nuclear-powered cargo ships ever built. (Soviet ice-breaker Lenin launched on December 5, 1957, was the first nuclear-powered civil ship.)

Savannah was deactivated in 1971 and has been moored at Pier 13 of the Canton Marine Terminal in Baltimore, Maryland, since 2008. The ship was a demonstration project with cargo space about one-third that of fossil fueled freighters. Cost issues and labor disputes sidelined the ship from showing its true competitive nature.

The ship is now a floating museum tied up at the Port of Baltimore. Savannah was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 14, 1982. She was designated a National Historic Landmark on July 17, 1991. Savannah is notable as one of the most visible and intact examples of the Atoms for Peace program, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in advance of the customary fifty-year age requirement because of her exceptional national significance.

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