Industry

17 MAY 2021

ATKINS-DESIGNED COMPACT NUCLEAR POWER STATION UNVEILED

The UK SMR consortium, led by Rolls-Royce, has revealed the latest design of its proposed low cost, factory-built nuclear power station, known as a small modular reactor (SMR).

Atkins – a consortium partner - led the civil, structural and architectural design for the power station which features a refreshed faceted aesthetic roof; a surrounding earth berm integrated with the surrounding landscape; and a compact building footprint. 

The design is also heavily influenced by modular development and construction methods which will ensure power station components can be manufactured in a factory and assembled on site.

The consortium is working with its partners and UK Research and Innovation to secure a fleet of factory built nuclear power stations, each providing 470MW of electricity. Significant exports are also being targeted, helping governments around the world with their Net Zero obligations.

Peter Sell, chief design engineer, UK SMR at Atkins, said: “As a consortium we’re seeking to refresh the image of the energy sector with a contemporary and sustainable design that takes pride in its aesthetics and environmental awareness while supporting delivery of ambitious net zero commitments.”

Andy Crabb, architect and associate director, said “The apparently simple design cloaks a multitude of modular facilities below a skyline of folded architectural planes that rise above an encircling ground form modelled from the site itself. The iconic profile engages with the sky and the earthworks with the ground, together enshrouding a new kind of modular thinking in the design of a new power for the future.”

Tom Samson, chief executive officer, UKSMR consortium, said: “Nuclear power is central to tackling climate change, economic recovery and energy security. To do this it must be affordable, reliable and investable and the way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings downs its costs to be comparable with offshore wind at around £50 per megawatt-hour.

“As we reach the end of our first phase, I’m proud that our team has designed a product that can be commoditised to provide the scale required to be a key part of the world’s decarbonisation efforts. We are ready to go and hope to be first in line to start the rigorous Generic Design Assessment process in the autumn of this year.” 

The UKSMR is aiming for this to be the first design assessed by regulators in autumn 2021 in the newly-opened assessment window, which will keep it on track to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.

As the power station’s design has adjusted and improved - with more than 200 major engineering decisions made during the last phase – its forecast power output has increased without additional cost from 440 megawatts (MW) to 470MW.

The UKSMR consortium members feature expertise across nuclear engineering, construction and infrastructure from Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Rolls-Royce and TWI.

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