Small modular reactors (SMRs) offer the UK socio-economic benefits that would last 100 years, said John Molyneux of Rolls-Royce, but today’s government must make its mind up how it wants to proceed. Rolls-Royce’s director of technology and engineering, John Molyneux gave more details on Rolls-Royce’s new reactor design and the next steps in its development when speaking to the European Young Nuclear Generation Forum event in Manchester, organised by the European Nuclear Society and the UK Nuclear Institute. Still without a publicised name, Rolls-Royce’s design is a pressurized water reactor in a close-coupled four-loop configuration. A team of about 150 people have been working on it for around two years. The first months were taken with major design decisions including the use of a light-water as coolant and moderator and to select the close-coupled arrangement of steam generators as opposed to integrating them into the reactor vessel, or adopting a more spread out design similar to today’s large reactors. At 450 MWe the output is higher than other innovative designs, and actually outside the usual range considered to define the SMR market of up to 300 MWe. For Rolls-Royce, the primary market would be the UK where up to about 7 GWe of small units could be deployed, probably at existing nuclear power sites. “The UK market is important,” Molyneux said “but to really make them fly you have to look internationally so support from the UK government to international markets becomes really important” requiring further long-term political commitment. Molyneux said he expects strong competition from Chinese, Russian and US offerings to mean that Europe and the Middle East would be more likely sales targets for Rolls-Royce. According to a study by the UK National Nuclear Laboratory, those areas could see 4400 MWe and 5200 MWe of small units, respectively. Should the UK succeed in becoming a reactor vendor again, the socio-economic benefits are enormous, said Molyneux. Up to 40,000 jobs could be created in the years 2030-2050 and a total benefit to the UK economy of GBP 188 billion ($239 billion) spread across a century.
World Nuclear News 13th June 2017 read more »