The UK blue chip engineering giant said in a statement that Exelon Generation, which operates 21 nuclear reactors in the US, will be using its operational experience to help Rolls-Royce in the development and deployment of the company’s UKSMR.
It gave few details of the agreement with ČEZ, but said the UKSMR could be “a very attractive option” for the utility as it looks to its future reliable low carbon energy supply. ČEZ owns and operates the Czech Republic’s six commercial power reactors, four at Dukovany and two at Temelín.
Daniel Beneš, chairman and chief executive officer of ČEZ, said the company has been focusing on SMRs for some time. “In the future, they can be an important alternative that we cannot ignore,” he said.
Rolls-Royce is leading a consortium that is designing a low-cost factory built SMR. Its standardised, factory-made components and advanced manufacturing processes push down costs, while the rapid assembly of the modules and components inside a weatherproof canopy on the power station site itself avoid costly schedule disruptions.
The consortium is working with its partners and the UK government to secure a commitment for a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations, each providing 440 MW of electricity, to be operational within a decade. The current phase of the programme has been jointly funded by all consortium members and UK Research and Innovation, a government body.
The consortium members are Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Rolls-Royce and TWI.
Tom Samson, interim chief executive officer of the UKSMR consortium, said nuclear power is central to tackling climate change and economic recovery, but it must be affordable, reliable and investable. “The way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings its cost down to be comparable with offshore wind,” he said.
Rolls-Royce has said the target cost for each new SMR is £1.8bn by the time five have been built, with further savings possible.
The power stations will be built by the UKSMR consortium, before being handed over to be operated by power generation companies. Exelon Generation will work closely with the consortium during the pre-operation period.