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North Wales Site Should Be Location For First UK SMR, Says Report By MPs

By David Dalton
26 July 2016

North Wales Site Should Be Location For First UK SMR, Says Report By MPs
The Trawsfynydd nuclear site in north Wales.

26 Jul (NucNet): The Trawsfynydd nuclear site in north Wales should be designated as a site for a first-of-its kind small modular reactor (SMR) station in the UK, but progress has to be made soon if the UK wants to be “first to market” for SMRs, a committee of MPs has said.

Parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee said in a report on nuclear in Wales that the government will set out site criteria for SMRs later this year.

In order to support the development of SMRs the government should move fast to make it clear what needs to be done for Trawsfynydd to meet these criteria and be designated as a site, the committee said. “That said, we are strongly of the view, based on the expert evidence we have received, that Trawsfynydd is a standout candidate for locating a first-of-its-kind SMR,” the committee said.

Trawsfynydd, which had two 195-MW gas-cooled Magnox reactors, is on a 15-hectare site, on an inland lake in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales.

Trawsfynydd was the first inland civil Magnox nuclear station. It started service in 1965 and generated 69 TWh of electricity over the 26 years until its closure in 1991.

The committee said the availability of cooling water and the grid connections mean it would meet the technical requirements, and its history as a nuclear site and its ownership by the government mean that it would be easy to designate it as a site for SMR development.

The presence of a skilled workforce, which is strongly in favour of the project, would also be a major boost to SMR development.

The committee said the location of Trawsfynydd also makes it useful for a first-of-its-kind SMR. An SMR at Trawsfynydd would provide a good test case of whether SMRs can deliver value for money electricity without needing to sell large amounts of excess heat.

It is clear that SMR development would be the best option for the future use of Trawsfynydd, the committee said. “It would be the most favourable economic option for Gwynedd, providing an economic stimulus to the area, and many-quality jobs. It would also help to keep skilled workers in the area and would provide clarity on the end status of the site, reducing the cost of decommissioning.”

Developing an SMR in the UK could support the creation of a nuclear supply chain in the UK. With the National Nuclear Laboratory and Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre located nearby in the northwest of England, north Wales could take advantage of this. But the committee said this will only be possible if the UK government makes the right decision when choosing which SMR model to back through its SMR competition.

The government should enable either the creation of a UK-based SMR developer or a partnership with an international vendor that will deliver UK involvement in manufacturing and jobs, the committee said. The government should do this by creating the appropriate regulatory and business environment.

“We also believe that progress has to be made soon, if the UK wants to be first to market for SMRs. Greater clarity on the potential for SMRs to be built in the UK would also help firms with nuclear and advanced manufacturing skills to prepare for opportunities in the supply chain.”

The committee also said the UK government should negotiate a price for electricity from a planned new nuclear power station in Wales below that already agreed for the planned Hinkley Point C station in England.

The government has agreed a so-called strike price with EDF of £92.50/MWh – approximately double the current wholesale cost of electricity – for electricity produced over 35 years at Hinkley Point C. The price would be £89.50 if EDF goes ahead with another new reactor in Sizewell, reflecting the fact that EDF’s costs will be lower per reactor if it builds two of them.

Horizon Nuclear Power, a company formed in 2009 to develop new nuclear power stations in the UK, is planning to build reactors at the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear station on the island of Anglesey in north Wales.

The report is online:

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