- UK / Rolls-Royce Begins Generic Design Assessment Process For 470-MW SMR Design
- Qatar to Take £100m Stake in Rolls-Royce Nuclear Reactor Business
- Nuclear Finance Revamp Will Attract U.K. Pension Funds, EDF Says
- France Plans on Building Nuclear Reactors Again
UK / Rolls-Royce Begins Generic Design Assessment Process For 470-MW SMR Design
(NucNet) Rolls-Royce SMR Ltd, which last week announced it had raised £450m in funding from investors and the government, has submitted its 470-MW small modular reactor design for entry to the UK’s generic design assessment (GDA) regulatory process.The engineering giant wants new generation reactors to be deployed in early 2030s.
The company said the first step is to secure clearance from the department for business, energy and industrial strategy through its initial screening process. This will confirm the Rolls-Royce SMR business is qualified to enter the GDA process, which is run jointly by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, Natural Resources Wales and Environment Agency.
This initial screening process reviews whether a company has the capability and capacity to enter the GDA process. The government evaluation is expected to take up to four months before the regulators can begin their formal review process. This means the GDA could begin by early Spring 2022.
Helena Perry, regulatory and safety affairs director at Rolls-Royce SMR, said: “This is an important moment for the nuclear industry, as a UK SMR reactor design enters the initial process for regulatory approval for the first time. We have already made 270 design decisions during our pre-licensing engagement and are confident of working with the experienced regulatory teams to deliver an efficient GDA process.”
The GDA process is expected to take four to five years, during which time, Rolls-Royce SMR will engage in a range of parallel activities, including factory development, site selection, site preparation, and related commercial discussions.
Ms Perry said: “We will have around 300 people working full time on these important regulatory processes. Both the industry and regulators have learnt a great deal from previous GDA processes and we will integrate those lessons into the collaborative approach we will take with the UK regulators.”
Rolls-Royce said last week that it had established the Rolls-Royce SMR business to deploy SMRs that could be available to the UK grid in the early 2030s. The new business has been formed with investors BNF Resources and the US generator Exelon Generation with a joint investment of £195m to fund the plans over the next three years.
The government will match the consortium’s investment, which is set to receive a second phase of £50m from Rolls-Royce, with £210m to help roll out the SMRs as part of the government’s green 10-point plan, announced in December 2020, to kickstart the green economy over the next decade. The 10-point plan included investing £525m to help develop large and smaller-scale nuclear plants, and research and develop new advanced modular reactors.
Discussions will continue with the government on long-term investment in the project. “Rolls-Royce SMR is engaging with export customers across many continents who need this technology to meet their own net zero commitments,” a statement said.
Rolls-Royce said the potential for this to be a leading global export for the UK is unprecedented. Nine-tenths of an individual Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80% could be delivered by a UK supply chain.
Much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the north of the UK, where there is significant existing nuclear expertise.
Rolls-Royce said its SMR can support both on-grid electricity and off-grid clean energy solutions, enabling the decarbonization of industrial processes and the production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels and green hydrogen.
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Qatar to Take £100m Stake in Rolls-Royce Nuclear Reactor Business
Qatar will join billionaire French oil dynasty the Perrodo family, which made its fortune from the private oil company Perenco, and US nuclear giant Exelon Generation, as Roll-Royce’s partners in the project.
Earlier this month, the Qatar Foundation and Rolls-Royce agreed a deal to invest in green technology as part of a plan to create up to 10,000 jobs and ultimately create up to five new billion-dollar businesses.
Last week, Rolls Royce raised £195m backed by the Perrodo’s family investment firm and Exelon Generation in a deal that unlocks a further £210m of UK taxpayer funding.
Rolls Royce will need many more hundreds of millions of pounds to complete research, testing and design of its proposed power plants. It will probably require more than $1 bilion of funding if its development program is anywhere near as expensive as NuScale’s experience was in the US.
The company plans on making the reactors by the early 2030s, which is a timetable that could prove optimistic depending on the outcome of the GDA process and access to capital to build the plants. Rolls has set a target for each small reactor to cost £1.8bn.
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Nuclear Finance Revamp Will Attract U.K. Pension Funds, EDF Says
The U.K.’s proposed overhaul of the financing mechanism for nuclear power plants will attract more local investors, making the government less dependent on Chinese money for infrastructure projects, says EDF the developer of the 20 billion-pound ($26.9 billion) Sizewell C project.
The Bloomberg wire service reports that a bill passing through parliament implements the regulated asset base, or RAB, model to encourage private-sector investment in nuclear power and dilute the construction risk shouldered by U.K. taxpayers and developers. A key element is the link to the Consumer Price Index, thus making it an attractive investment for U.K. pension funds, according to Electricite de France SA.(EDF)
The government is seeking to remove state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp. from all future projects in Britain. Sizewell’s majority partner, EDF, is in financing talks with officials on options that may now exclude CGN, which owns a 20% stake in the power station. EDF has said the proposed plant in eastern England is viable without Chinese funding if it can find other investors.
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France Plans on Building Nuclear Reactors Again
French President Emmanuel Macron said France will build six new nuclear reactors. This will keep France’s energy costs at a “reasonable” level and reduce dependence on imports. France will save energy and invest in domestic carbon-free energy production. Nuclear power was at the heart of Macron’s France 2030 plan for re-industrialization which was announced last month.
According to a report published by RTE in late-October, the cheapest way for France to achieve its net-zero emissions target by 2050 would be through the construction of 14 large new reactors, plus a fleet of small modular reactors, as well as significantly investing in renewables.
EDF has already stated that it would like to construct six more 1600 MWe EPR reactors in France. EDF and Framatome are developing a simplified version of the EPR design, known as EPR2. The new reactor will be an optimized version of the current EPR.
EDF says its is increasing its operational flexibility and reducing construction costs. By refining the design, they are streamlining the construction process, allowing many components to be prefabricated and harnessing the potential in standardization.
The first new reactors are scheduled for completion in 2030. They are set to replace six older reactors at three sites in France.
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