UK’s first Small Modular Reactors to be built in North Teeside

North Teeside will host the first Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the UK, with facilities to be delivered by a collaboration between US nuclear firm Westinghouse Electric Company and Community Nuclear Power (CNP), based in Cumbria.

The 8 February announcement detailed the intention to deploy four Westinghouse AP300 SMRs at the site, a technology previously selected by Great British Nuclear (GBN) in October. These are expected to be up and running by the 2030s, providing 1.5 GW of power, or enough to power up to two million homes.

The AP300 is described as the most advanced, proven and readily deployable SMR solution, and is based on an existing reactor, the AP1000, already deployed in China, where four are operating presently with six more under construction.

Both systems use a pressurized water reactor (PWR) design, a type of reactor that uses light water (i.e., normal water) rather than heavy water as the primary coolant, which is pumped under high pressure to the reactor core. In the case of the AP1000, the reactor coolant pumps are canned-motor pumps, a type used in many other industrial applications that require reliability and long life.

SMRs offer a putatively easier path to nuclear deployment than large projects such as Hinkley Point C – with considerably lesser requirements in terms of constructing foundations that offer protection against seismic events.

On 10 January the government outlined plans for “the biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years” in a bid to “reduce electricity bills, support thousands of jobs and improve UK energy security” – with initiatives including exploring building a major new power station and investing in advanced nuclear fuel production.