Rolls-Royce signs £3.7m deal to deliver ‘huge’ nuclear project and slash energy prices

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The contract will be delivered to Sheffield Forgemasters and will see it form part of the development of commercial Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the UK.

Rolls-Royce is engineering SMRs to produce enough nuclear power to fuel a million homes, a city around the size of Leeds, yet the products only take up the space of about two football pitches.

The innovation is hoped to be incorporated into the energy grid by 2030 in the UK as races to decarbonise in the fight against climate, and it is also hoped that there is significant export potential for these products too.

The new deal forms part of Rolls-Royce SMR’s work to achieve regulatory approval.

It will allow both parties to understand and develop manufacturing procedures and techniques to reduce risk and speed up the crucial first production of the vital components of SMRs.

Sheffield Forgemasters is the only UK company able to produce these significant forgings which are needed in the manufacturing of the SMRs.

The company has decades of experience and delivery abilities in this arena.

The contract is the first major supply chain material deal as a result of the upcoming UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) grant funding, which is delivered through the Low Cost Nuclear challenge and private capital to form the Rolls-Royce SMR business.

The Low Cost Nuclear challenge is part of the drive to help the UK reach its net zero commitment through generating new sources of low-carbon energy through the development of SMRs.

The investments into Rolls-Royce SMR and the new contract look set to strengthen the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.

Matthew Blake, Rolls-Royce SMR’s Chief Engineer commented: “Sheffield Forgemasters are world leaders in forgings and castings, and we are incredibly fortunate to have their experience to support
our SMR programme.

“This contract enables us to work in parallel, testing manufacturing processes and procedures while developing the technology, which will allow us to move at pace when we reach the deployment stage.

“We are committed to delivering the SMR fleet with a focus on
maximising the UK’s supply chain and this significant contract is just the start as we look to re-energise the vital UK nuclear supply chain.”

David Bond, CEO of Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “These forgings will be integral to the overall evaluation of routes to manufacture for the Rolls-Royce SMR programme.

“The forgings will require highly detailed simulation work and analysis from our RD&T team to deliver components which will meet exacting nuclear-grade standards.

“We are very excited to be working with Rolls-Royce SMR on the first deliverables for this project.”

Nuclear power is seen as having a vital role to play in providing reliable, affordable, low-carbon energy as Britain seeks to meet Mr Johnson’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

While big projects for traditional nuclear power stations like Hinkley Point C, are costly and take a long time to build, SMRs are cheaper to build and less obtrusive because of their smaller size.

Rolls-Royce CTO Paul Stein about the huge potential for SMRs in the UK, which he claimed could be the cheapest way for Britain to achieve net zero.

He said: “We think we have got one of the most competitive designs in the world for SMR and we’re very upbeat in the UK’s role in taking a big share of the global market.

“Our ambition is to get to a place where the consumer doesn’t see any price difference between net zero electricity and the electricity that they get today through fossil fuels. Nuclear is absolutely vital.

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“Small modular reactors are complete innovations in the way you can strut the nuclear power stations.

“They are going to be huge for UK industry, and we have quoted 40,000 jobs around the UK”.

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