Small nuclear reactors could power Teesside chemicals industry

Article by Adam Duckett

Westinghouse's AP300 small modular reactor is one of six designs in the running for UK government support

A DEAL has been struck to build a fleet of four small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in Teesside to provide power to the local chemicals industry.

Reactor builder Westinghouse Electric has signed an agreement with the project coordinator Community Nuclear Power (CNP) to develop the plans, which if successful could see the UK’s first privately financed fleet of SMRs generating low-carbon power in the region during the early 2030s.

In a statement, CNP said: “There is mature market-led demand in Teesside for clean, reliable energy – in this instance a programme to build a specialised site that provides green sustainable power for the region and supports the development of a Green Energy and Chemical Hub.”

The site will be built on the North Tees Group Estate on the bank of the River Tees, near Stockton-on-Tees and has the ambition of “producing power to liquids (e-fuels and e-chemicals) through an offtake ecosystem”.

Other partners include the engineering giant Jacobs which is helping to develop a fully licensed site for the project.

Westinghouse would provide four AP300 SMRs, a 300 MW slimmed down version of its 1 GW AP1000 reactor, the first of which was connected to the grid in China in 2018.

Westinghouse was among six companies selected last year to bid for contracts to build SMRs in the UK. The winners will be announced this spring and the contracts awarded in the summer.

Last month, the UK government set out plans to build new SMRs and conventional large-scale plants to meet its target of increasing nuclear power output from 6.5 GW today to 24 GW by 2050. SMRs can be built in factories which could help reduce project costs and the lengthy overruns common with larger plants. Westinghouse argues that it has reduced these risks further by basing its SMR on existing designs rather than the first-of-a-kind designs being used by other developers.

David Durham, Westinghouse president for energy systems, said: “Our AP300 SMR is ideally suited not just to support grid generation, but also for industrial sites for generating clean and secure energy and the ability to produce hydrogen, e-fuels, desalination and district heating.”

CNP has several SMR projects under development, including plans to install a Rolls-Royce SMR close to the Sellafield nuclear waste processing site in Cumbria.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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