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Rolls-Royce launches new facility to boost nuclear power plan

24 May 2024

Rolls-Royce has launched a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in South Yorkshire for its small modular reactor (SMR) prototype modules.

The Rolls-Royce SMR Module Development Facility (MDF), which will be housed in the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s existing Factory 2050, is set to manufacture and test prototype modules for small modular reactors (SMRs).

The first phase is worth £2.7 million and will be part of a wider £15m+ package of work that will further de-risk and underpin the Rolls-Royce SMR programme. 

SMRs are advanced nuclear reactors that are designed to be factory-built and transported to operational sites for installation. 

The technology is seen as a clean energy solution that is easier to deliver and scale, and is more affordable than building new larger nuclear power stations. 

Each Rolls-Royce SMR could provide enough low-carbon electricity to power a million homes for more than 60 years.

The new facility at the University of Sheffield AMRC will produce working prototypes of individual modules that will be assembled into Rolls-Royce SMR power plants.

The Rolls-Royce SMR programme is UK’s first home-grown nuclear technology for over a generation and today’s announcement is another vital step towards deploying a fleet of factory-built nuclear power plants in the UK and around the globe. 

Victoria Scott, Rolls-Royce SMR’s Chief Manufacturing Engineer, said: “Our investment in setting up this facility and building prototype modules is another significant milestone for our business. 

“Our factories will produce hundreds of prefabricated and pre-tested modules ready for assembly on site. This facility will allow us to refine our production, testing and digital approach to manufacturing – helping de-risk our programme and ensure we increase our delivery certainty.”

Rolls-Royce SMR factories will produce hundreds of prefabricated and pre-tested modules ready for assembly on site into a complete nuclear power plant.

The AMRC’s Factory 2050 is the UK’s first state-of-the-art factory with reconfigurable spaces to enable collaborative research into digital manufacturing, machining technologies and component manufacture.

“This announcement cements South Yorkshire’s position as the leading place to build small modular reactors, a cutting-edge technology which will be a key part of the global transition to clean energy,” said South Yorkshire’s Mayor, Oliver Coppard.

“It is also a sign of real confidence in our region’s world-leading advanced manufacturing innovation district which is helping us to create a bigger and better economy in South Yorkshire.   

“South Yorkshire is proud to be the home of the largest Clean Tech cluster in the UK, with specialisms in nuclear tech, hydrogen and aviation fuels.

“Being chosen as the home of the new Rolls-Royce SMR Module Development Facility further enhances our region’s reputation as the best place for Clean Tech in the UK and puts us at the forefront of creating a greener future for the UK and beyond.”

Councillor Martin Smith, Chair of the Economy, Skills and Development Committee at Sheffield City Council, added: "The new multi-million-pound investment brings with it new jobs as well as advances in technology which could power millions of homes for decades to come.”

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