Three North East sites on Rolls-Royce shortlist for nuclear power station factory

This is what an SMR nuclear reactor could look like upon completion. Credit: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has announced a list of potential locations for its first factory to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.

The company has set up a new business dedicated to Small Modular Reactors (SMR), which it said will deliver "low cost, low carbon nuclear power technology".

The seven sites to make the shortlist are:

  • IAMP, Sunderland

  • Forrest Park, Newton Aycliffe

  • Catterick 53, Richmond

  • Gateway, Deesside

  • Ferrybridge, West Yorkshire

  • Grimsby & Pioneer Park, North East Lincolnshire

  • Kingmoor Park, Carlisle

SMR reactors need government approval before any construction begins Credit: Rolls Royce

What are Small Modular Reactors?

SMRs have yet to receive government approval, but are said to be favoured in response to climate change concerns and a desire to stop using Russian gas.

Ministers hope these will be cheaper to build than traditional nuclear setups because of their smaller size, and that they could be operational by the 2030s.

Rolls-Royce SMR chief executive, Tom Samson, said the seven sites were picked from more than 100 submissions.

IAMP Sunderland is one of the shortlisted sites. Credit: IAMP

"I would like to thank everyone who sent in a submission suggesting locations in their region for the first Rolls-Royce SMR factory," he said.

"The response was fantastic and shows the ambition and appetite of the UK to build and operate a fleet of SMRs which will provide affordable, low-carbon electricity for generations to come.

"The final location will come from the shortlist and will result in significant investment, long-term high-skilled jobs and will support the UK Government's aspirations for levelling-up.

"Today’s announcement is another example of the pace of our project and why Rolls-Royce SMR is the UK’s domestic nuclear energy champion."

The factory would produce parts for a nuclear power station, but that could be located outside the region. Credit: Rolls-Royce

This first factory would be the largest and complex of three future facilities and would manufacture the so-called 'heavy vessels' of the nuclear power station.

It would create high-skilled jobs with more than 200 permanent roles.

The other two factories will manufacture smaller modules which can be transported to sites and assembled into a power station.

The Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, will have the final say on SMR reactors in the UK. Credit: PA

Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, said it was fantastic news for the shortlisted sites, adding: "If these SMRs go ahead, (these areas) could be at the forefront of manufacturing components for this British-made tech.

"Backed by £210m, SMRs have the potential to provide quicker and cheaper low-carbon nuclear power, and today’s announcement underlines the potential for new jobs around the country created by embracing this new technology."

An SMR power station would significantly smaller than the one under construction at Hinkley Point. Credit: PA

Only one SMR nuclear power station is currently operational worldwide, in Russia, while others are planned in Canada, China, Poland and the United States.

Rolls-Royce said its power station would have the capacity to generate 470MW of low carbon energy, equivalent to more than 150 onshore wind turbines, and enough to power a million homes.

This is significantly smaller than traditional reactors such as the one under construction at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

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