Small Modular Reactors

UK / Rolls-Royce SMR Signs Agreement For Long-Term Collaboration On Forgings

By David Dalton
6 December 2021

First reactors could be available to UK grid in early 2030s
Rolls-Royce SMR Signs Agreement For Long-Term Collaboration On Forgings
Rolls-Royce has said its first SMRs could be available to the UK grid in the early 2030s. Courtesy Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce SMR, which has government and private sector backing to develop a small modular reactor that could be deployed by early next decade, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Sheffield Forgemasters to explore long-term collaboration on the supply of forgings for the planned SMR fleet.

Rolls-Royce said Sheffield Forgemasters is able to supply the complex, nuclear-grade demonstrator forgings as part of the regulatory process. The company said the project supports the UK’s civil nuclear renaissance and the development of SMRs in the country.

Tom Samson, Rolls-Royce SMR’s chief executive officer, said Sheffield Forgemasters are world leaders in complex, safety-critical forgings and castings. “This agreement is the start of an enduring partnership and reflects our commitment to the UK supply chain as we look to re-build and re-energise the vital UK nuclear supply chain,” he said.

Sheffield Forgemasters, which provides nuclear power components for the UK submarine programme, is investing £400m in a new 13,000 tonne forging line and 19 state-of-the-art machining centres. The company said this will benefit its nuclear defence work, with “obvious cross-benefits for civil nuclear activity, including SMRs”.

Rolls-Royce announced last month it is pushing ahead with multibillion pound plans to develop and deploy a new generation of SMRs after raising £450m in funding from investors and the government.

The company also said last month it had submitted its 470-MW SMR design for entry to the UK’s generic design assessment (GDA) regulatory process. This initial screening process reviews whether a company has the capability and capacity to enter the GDA process. The government evaluation is expected to take up to four months before the regulators can begin their formal review process.

The GDA process is expected to take four to five years, during which time, Rolls-Royce SMR will engage in a range of parallel activities, including factory development, siting and commercial discussions.

Rolls-Royce’s new SMR business was formed with investors BNF Resources and the US generator Exelon Generation with a joint investment of £195m to fund the plans over the next three years.

The UK government is matching the consortium’s investment, which is set to receive a second phase top-up of £50m from Rolls-Royce, with £210m to help roll out the SMRs as part of the government’s green 10-point plan, announced in December 2020, to kickstart the green economy over the next decade.

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