Nuclear: Trawsfynydd site could pioneer Rolls-Royce mini reactor

Posted: February 16, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, Nuclear power

SMR transporter

The project aims to have the first power generated within 8 to 10 years, and more ex-nuclear sites are being considered. R-R already powers the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet.
– – –
There is a “pretty high probability” that Trawsfynydd could be the site of the UK’s first small nuclear power station, says the company hoping to build it.

Engineering giant Rolls-Royce wants to build a network of mini-reactors, a third of the size of current stations, says BBC Wales.

It hopes to strike a deal with the UK government within the next year.

But it says the site of the old Gwynedd reactor ticks all the boxes to pioneer the technology.

If it goes ahead it would also be one of the first small modular reactors (SMRs) in the world.

Meanwhile, a leading industry figure – who is leading the company decommissioning the old Trawsfynydd and Wylfa stations – told BBC Wales that nuclear power must be part of the energy mix if more electric cars are to be seen on our roads.

SMRs are far cheaper and faster to build than large nuclear power plants as they’re built off-site and then assembled at the locations.

Each would operate for 60 years and would provide 440 MW of electricity, according to Rolls-Royce, which is enough to power Cardiff, Swansea and Newport combined.

Some question whether the SMR model will prove economically viable even taking into account the potential for selling the design and technology to other countries.

Rolls-Royce chief technology officer Paul Stein said the nuclear physics would be exactly the same as with large scale projects but at the fraction of the cost.

“So radical is the cost reduction that we’re now in the territory of having nuclear power at the price of wind,” he said.

Full report here.

  1. mark4asp says:

    Every reactor design built in the UK needs approval by our regulator: ONR. It takes about 5 years for a reactor to get approval. It’s a one off process, after that as many designs as required may be built. They’ll also need site approval but that is usually up to 2 years and both approvals can be concurrent. If they began the approval process today, they could start building by 2025, and have it running by, powering the grid, let’s say 4 years later, 2029. Assuming 3 years for construction and 1 year for tests.

    I imagine it will take them longer to build it – at least 5 years. Don’t expect to get any of this electricity before 2031. Their planned milestones are:
    2023 – Achievement of regulatory Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA)
    2030 – First of a kind commercial operation

  2. cognog2 says:

    This brilliant news if it goes ahead. The nuclear industry now needs to plaster the airwaves with the facts about the safety and advantages of these units and get rid of the fears surrounding this technology if it is to get the support of the population. The Greens won’t like it as it undermines its emission message; so it will be a nasty battle, riddled with misinformation and imagined catastrophe.

  3. oldbrew says:

    cognog – they’re using existing or former nuclear sites so most locals won’t object, in fact some will want a job out of it.

    Not meaning to be rude but Trawsfynydd is basically in the middle of nowhere, so not many people will even notice what’s happening.

  4. Rory says:

    “Not meaning to be rude but Trawsfynydd is basically in the middle of nowhere, so not many people will even notice what’s happening.” It’s in the middle of a national park and about 10 minutes drive to Porthmadog/Blaenau Ffestiniog. I can be in Chester in about an hour from the site… hardly middle of nowhere. 😉

    It’s a perfect location for an SMR. Why ?…it will use the existing 400kv sub station, No new power lines required, a relatively new dam, low visual impact compared to the existing buildings, a skilled workforce, 60 year lifecycle, 450 MWe output (base load) , the possibility of producing bulk hydrogen on the site of near to. If the site is selected for the FOAK SMR than it reinforces the case to have continued decommissioning leading to final site clearance. An industry first in the UK !

  5. donald penman says:

    Lets hope they get this up and running as soon as possible then we can look forward to having cheaper energy when we get rid of the expensive wind generators and solar power.

  6. Roderick Birrell says:

    One thing about Trawsfynned, the roads were upgraded so 25 years ago when I had to my rally prepped Skoda Rapid those were really good -and empty bar the sheep – roads to fling your car around. Observing the speed limit at all times,of course. Mind that car would do well over 100 and had a short throw gearbox and no suspension and tyres about 18 inches wide…. happy days.
    Sold the car because I was getting older and my reactions have slowed…

  7. Roderick Birrell says:

    Well my previous comment has been lost in moderation. Oh, well.
    I beleive RR have been running submarine reactors in the middle of Derby for decades without incident. Bring it on.j

  8. ivan says:

    Boris and Co. are not going to like this. As cognog says it will be a battle between the green agenda and common sense and if the ‘back to the EU’ wimps in government have their way common sense will lose and all the ‘green energy’ suppliers will be fighting hard to keep their subsidies and other kickbacks.

    RR are going to need to pull their socks up and have a working unit running in two years if they hope to move forward.

  9. tom0mason says:

    Can’t see it happening, the Greenies will on the throats of the Welsh Government to stop it.
    Still it will provide the BBC with more footage of people ‘saving the planet’, while ignoramuses are invited onto radio and TV to screech more strident hyperbole about the dangers of nuclear power.

  10. Steve Borodin says:

    Nuclear power at the cost of wind is nothing to boast about. I would expect it to be about one third the cost of wind.

  11. oldbrew says:

    Rory says: I can be in Chester in an hour.

    That fits my definition of the middle of nowhere 🙂

    I do know that fast road to Trawsfynydd. It owes its characteristics to having once had the nuclear power station at the end of it. Large loads don’t like awkward winding country roads with iffy surfaces, obviously.

  12. Gamecock says:

    ‘R-R already powers the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet.’

    Not relevant. Military reactor requirements very different from civilian requirements.

  13. john gould says:

    This is a very good proposal and deserves to be accepted on environmental grounds. Such power plants will contribute immensely to carbon reduction and to help provide much needed system stability which is lacking with wind and solar energy generation.

  14. oldbrew says:

    The Rolls-Royce SMR brochure…

    Small Modular Reactors – once in a lifetime opportunity for the UK

    [12 pages]

    UK SMR – Technical Summary

    Estimated Construction Schedule (days) – TBC

    [8 pages]

  15. Chaswarnertoo says:

    The cost of wind? Bloody expensive, then? Should be matching the cost of gas, in the USA….

  16. oldbrew says:

    The costs should come down if/when regular production gets going, as with most manufactured goods.

  17. ivan says:

    mark4asp, it shouldn’t take more than a year to get approval for the reactor design unless the civil servants are gold plating the process and are anti nuclear (think Greenham Common). The fact that they make reactors for the navy should cut that time down to less than 6 months.

    Having read the approval requirements it appears that they are set to make an application fail. Safety requirements tacked on to safety requirements tacked on to automatic safety requirements is a standard recipe for failure.

  18. phil salmon says:

    Good news.
    Things are moving fast now re electrification of cars, etc.
    So I have a sense that regulatory hurdles won’t hold this up.

  19. Mike Ellwood says:

    Agree, very good news, and I hope it provides some additional employment in the area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s