Northern Wales may soon find itself the epicenter of the production of parts for Rolls-Royce’s upcoming small modular reactor (SMR) initiative.
The towns of Deeside, Sunderland, and Teesside have all made the shortlist for the company’s site on which its first factory for key components of its new-generation nuclear reactors will be built.
Construction of the said manufacturing plant has been pegged at between £100 to £200 million and is expected to generate over 200 new jobs for those in neighboring communities.
A Crucial Step
The shortlisting of these Welsh towns is seen as a milestone in Rolls-Royce’s long-standing plan to build at least 30 SMRs, each of which would have a generating capacity of around 470 megawatts.
Once the factory has been built, regardless of location, it would produce pressure vessels, the large steel structures surrounding reactor cores, for individual SMRs.
Rolls-Royce SMR division chief Tom Samson stated that the company hopes to build at least three factories to produce components for SMRs. In doing so, the company hopes to uplift the area’s economy through facilities that would bring in a constant revenue stream and generate tens of thousands of jobs for residents.
Likewise, the SMR initiative is expected to supply clean and sustainable electricity to millions of homes and enterprises throughout the country within the next decade.
A Great Deal of Talk
But while Rolls-Royce hopes to make its decision as to where it would build its SMR parts facility by next year, it is unlikely that it will defer final negotiations until it can actually sway key officials in the British government to support the initiative and include an SMR rollout in its plans to augment its power supply.
As of press time, Rolls-Royce’s SMR technology is under assessment by a government-assigned regulatory body.
Despite this, local government officials in Wales are enthusiastic about the potential selection of their respective towns as the final site for construction. These would certainly boost the local and regional economies.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, for example, was buoyed by the inclusion of Teesside facility Teesworks in the shortlist, saying that it is high time that both big industries and well-known brands take notice of facilities in smaller towns.
Other sites on the shortlist include The International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland, as well as Gateway in Deeside.