Home » Plans move forward for Rolls-Royce small modular nuclear reactors

Plans move forward for Rolls-Royce small modular nuclear reactors

by Maryam Bint-Kazam
Proposed images of the Rolls-Royce SMR

Rolls-Royce’s plans to create small modular reactors have reached a major milestone. 

Rolls-Royce SMR, supported by grant funding from UK Research & Innovation, has completed the first step in the assessment by the UK’s independent nuclear regulators as part of its plans to create small modular reactors.

Commenting on the development, a Rolls-Royce spokesman said: “Reaching this significant milestone puts the Rolls-Royce SMR significantly ahead of other designs in securing consent for a small modular reactor to operate in the UK.”

Rolls-Royce SMR’s unique factory-built power plant can generate 470MW of low-carbon electricity – enough to power a million homes for at least 60 years, according to the company.

Safety and Regulatory Affairs director Helena Perry said: “This is a huge stride forward for our project and, through the independent scrutiny of our regulators, further increases confidence in the viability of the Rolls-Royce SMR design.

“Rolls-Royce SMR has unmatched experience – we are using all the knowledge and learning from our uniquely skilled team to move at pace through the assessment process, bringing us closer to our vision of providing clean, affordable energy for all and providing a British solution to a global energy crisis.”

It now moves on to step two, where the detailed technical assessment by regulators the Office for Nuclear Regulation, Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales begins in earnest.

Rolls-Royce SMR has launched a dedicated website where people can have their say on the design.

Andrew Pynn, the Environment Agency’s strategy and policy lead for the Rolls-Royce SMR Generic Design Assessment, said: “We’re assessing the environmental acceptability of a new reactor design from Rolls-Royce SMR Ltd.

“Our team of specialist assessors will identify any issues or concerns we have with the design and will work with the company to make sure it understands our expectations to ensure the protection of communities and the environment.

“Generic Design Assessment is an enabling and efficient approach, helping to ensure that new nuclear power stations will meet high standards of safety, security, environmental protection, and waste management.”

He continued: “During Step 1 we’ve studied the company’s arrangements, plans and readiness for Step 2 and learnt more about the reactor design.

“In our Step 1 statement we’ve summarised what we have looked at and concluded that we can progress to Step 2 of GDA where we will begin our fundamental assessment.

“Public and stakeholder engagement is important to us. We’re encouraging people to get involved in the comments process, which begins today, by reviewing the information on the company’s website and providing your comments which are viewed by the regulators.

“We’ll be engaging continually with stakeholders and public and we will carry out a consultation as we step through the regulatory process.”

Read more about Rolls-Royce SMR:

Rob Exley, ONR’s head of Generic Design Assessment, said: “The purpose of GDA is to determine whether the design meets our robust safety, security, safeguards and environmental protection standards in Great Britain.

“We are working together with the Environment Agency and NRW to ensure Rolls-Royce SMR Ltd understand and meet our regulatory expectations for its proposed reactor design.

“As nuclear regulators, we recognise that we are acting in the interests of the public and, as such, this period of scrutiny will be open, transparent and provide regular opportunities for meaningful engagement with interested parties throughout the GDA process.

“ONR is satisfied that Rolls-Royce SMR Ltd has adequate arrangements to support GDA.

“We have agreed an appropriate scope for GDA, for which the company has provided an appropriate submission schedule and a resourced organisation to deliver it.

“As regulators, we can now begin our technical assessment phase.”

Based on work during Step 1, the generic Rolls-Royce SMR design can proceed to Step 2 of the GDA

Image credit: Rolls-Royce SMR

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