Rolls-Royce ramps up plans for mini nuclear plants

By Mike Hayes13 September 2022

UK-based industrial technology firm Rolls-Royce SMR has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Czech nuclear engineering and manufacturing firm Škoda JS.

A model of a Small Modular Reactor (SMR). Image: Rolls-Royce SMR

The two companies are set to collaborate on the deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the Czech Republic and other parts of Central Europe.

Rolls-Royce SMR says it aims to utilise Škoda JS’ experience of producing pressurised water reactors (PWRs) and other large nuclear reactor components to support the development of its own modular reactors.

The SMRs are based on a small PWR, with a capacity of 470Mwe (megawatts electric) and an anticipated 60-year minimum lifespan.

The benefits of SMRs include cost and speed of construction, with approximately 90% of the plant built offsite, limiting on-site activity to the assembly of pre-fabricated modules.

The construction timeframe for an SMR is currently said to be around two years less than that of a standard nuclear power plant. 

Rolls-Royce SMR also says the risk of elements failing is significantly reduced with an SMR, as components are largely pre-tested off-site before being assembled.

Rolls-Royce SMR business development and strategy director Alan Woods, said, “We see a tremendous opportunity to develop international strategic supply chain partners from whom we can benefit from their decades of ongoing manufacturing knowledge. We are pleased to be discussing these opportunities with such a capable supplier as Škoda JS.”

Škoda JS Commercial Director Milos Mostecky, said, “SMR is a logical route the nuclear industry is taking to make nuclear energy more accessible and affordable in the immediate future.

“Our shops in Pilsen were originally designed to produce the components for 440MW reactors. The potential for utilisation of our engineering, manufacturing and maintenance capabilities and know-how for SMR projects in Europe is, therefore, significant.”

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