Yorkshire sites on shortlist for nuclear reactor factory

Rolls-Royce has drawn up a shortlist of six sites – including two in Yorkshire – for a major new factory which would build nuclear reactors.

The Government intends to construct 16 Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) over the next 25 years to secure the UK’s energy supply. These would be built on a production line and assembled at existing sites.

Proposed factory locations on the shortlist include: Richmond in North Yorkshire, Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire, Deeside in Wales, Stallingborough in Lincolnshire, Sunderland and Carlisle. Two more factories would then follow.

Rolls-Royce SMR chief executive Tom Samson said the reactors would “provide affordable, low-carbon electricity for generations to come.”

He added that the final selected location would benefit from “significant investment” and “long-term high-skilled jobs.”

Rolls-Royce was previously supported by a consortium of private investors and the UK Government to develop the reactors.

The creation of the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business was revealed in November following a £195m cash injection from private firms and a £210m grant from Government.

It is hoped the new company could create as many as 40,000 jobs by 2050.

Small modular reactors are nuclear fission reactors but are smaller than conventional plants. Rolls-Royce SMR explains one of its power stations would occupy about a tenth of the size of a conventional nuclear plant but could still create enough energy for about a million homes.

SMRs are understood to be less expensive to develop than traditional nuclear power plants because of their smaller size.

Yorkshire already has expertise in the nuclear sector through the former Yorkshire Business Masters award winning Sheffield Forgemasters. The business’s nuclear work was considered important enough for the historic manufacturer to be taken into public ownership when it was acquired by the Ministry of Defence.

Since the acquisition the business which operates in both the defence and energy sector, has announced plans to join forces with other firms with the aim to supply large-scale gigawatt nuclear projects across the UK, starting with Sizewell C. The MoU will see Forgemasters provide a range of specialised qualification components for the project and indicates potential longer-term opportunities for collaboration on future European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) projects across the UK.