The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce signs MoU With Exelon For Compact Nuclear Power Stations

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Rolls-Royce and Exelon Generation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding 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.

Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium that is designing a low-cost factory built nuclear power station, known as a small modular reactor (SMR). Its standardised, factory-made components and advanced manufacturing processes push costs down, while the rapid assembly of the modules and components inside a weatherproof canopy on the power station site itself avoid costly schedule disruptions.

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry of Exelon.

Exelon Corporation is an American Fortune 100 energy company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and incorporated in Pennsylvania. It generates revenues of approximately $33.5 billion and employs approximately 33,400 people. Exelon is the largest electric parent company in the United States by revenue, the largest regulated electric utility in the United States with approximately 10 million customers, and also the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States and the largest non-governmental operator of nuclear power plants in the world.

These two paragraphs from the press release flesh out more details.

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.

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.

This is not what you call a small deal.

This is the last section of the press release.

By 2050 a full UK programme of a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations in the UK could create:

  • Up to 40,000 jobs
  • £52BN of value to the UK economy
  • £250BN of exports

The current phase of the programme has been jointly funded by all consortium members and UK Research and Innovation.

But that is not all, as there is also a second press release, which is entitled Rolls-Royce Signs MoU With CEZ For Compact Nuclear Power Stations.

These are the first two paragraphs.

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

Rolls-Royce is leading the UK SMR Consortium that is designing this type of low-cost nuclear power station. Its standardised, factory-made components and advanced manufacturing processes push down costs; and the rapid assembly of the modules inside a weatherproof canopy at the power station site itself speeds up schedules.

These are my thoughts.

What Is A Small Modular Reactor or SMR?

This is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for Small Nuclear Reactor.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of nuclear fission reactor which are smaller than conventional reactors. This allows them to be manufactured at a plant and brought to a site to be assembled. Modular reactors allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and enhanced safety due to passive nuclear safety features. SMRs have been proposed as a way to bypass financial and safety barriers that have plagued conventional nuclear reactors.

This section on Wikipedia gives more details of the Rolls-Royce SMR.

Rolls-Royce is preparing a close-coupled three-loop PWR design, sometimes called the UK SMR.] The power output is planned to be 440 MWe, which is above the usual range considered to be a SMR. The design targets a 500 day construction time, on a 10 acres (4 ha) site. The target cost is £1.8 billion for the fifth unit built.

The consortium developing the design is seeking UK government finance to support further development. In 2017 the UK government provided funding of up to £56 million over three years to support SMR research and development. In 2019 the government committed a further £18 million to the development from its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

The construction time, site size and cost make for one of the big advantages of SMRs.

Say you need to create a 3260 MW nuclear power station like Hinckley Point C.

  • This would need a fleet of eight 440 MW SMRs.
  • These would cost £14.4 billion
  • Wikipedia lists Hinkley Point C as costing between £21.5 billion and £ 22.5 billion.
  • I suspect there will be an adjustment for the connection to the National Grid, which is probably included in the Hinckley Point C figures.
  • Eight SMRs will occupy 80 acres.
  • Hinckley Point C will occupy 430 acres.
  • Hinckley Point C was planned to be built in seven years.
  • Eight SMRs built one after the other would take 11 years. But, they would probably be planned to be built in an optimal way, where reactors came on-line, when their power was needed.

The biggest advantage though, is that as each of the eight SMRs is commissioned, they can start supplying power to the grid and earning money. This means that financing is much easier and the first reactor helps to pay for its siblings.

Could An SMR Replace A Fossil Fuel Power Station?

Suppose you have a coal-fired power station of perhaps 800 MW.

The power station will have a connection to the grid, which will be able to handle 800 MW.

If the power station is closed, there is no reason, why it can’t be replaced by an appropriately-sized fleet of SMRs, provided the site is suitable.

Who Are TWI?

I would assume that TWI is The Welding Institute, who are described like this in their Wikipedia entry.

The Welding Institute (TWI) is a research and technology organisation, with a specialty in welding. With headquarters six miles south of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, since 1946, and with facilities across the UK and around the world. TWI works across all industry sectors and in all aspects of manufacturing, fabrication and whole-life integrity management technologies.

It strikes me, this organisation could be a very important part of the consortium.

 

November 10, 2020 - Posted by | Energy | , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. I believe the received wisdom on nuclear power (when one takes a full spectrum view of them) is keep exisiting ones running as long as they are safe (low carbon energy, embedded costs), don’t build new big ones (too complicated and expensive), and don’t rule out modular ones (batter value low carbon energy for the reasons rehearsed in your post). The trouble is that it’s such an emotional subject. Germany has taken the pretty wild decision to close all their nuclear power stations no matter how old they are, which might make sense politically but doesn’t from a whole-view perspective.

    Comment by Matthew | November 11, 2020 | Reply

  2. Germany has also taken the decision to burn brown coal! Filthy stuff!

    If other Central European countries follow the Czech Republic’s lead, the big loser could be Vlad The Poisoner, who’ll lose gas sales! How sad!

    Comment by AnonW | November 11, 2020 | Reply

  3. […] Rolls-Royce signs MoU With Exelon For Compact Nuclear Power Stations, I gave these details of the Rolls-Royce design of […]

    Pingback by Is Sizewell The Ideal Site For A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors? « The Anonymous Widower | November 19, 2020 | Reply


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