£400m plans for small nuclear reactors set to create hundreds of jobs in Sheffield

Sheffield has a ‘huge opportunity’ to create manufacturing jobs if £400m plans for small nuclear reactors get the green light.

By David Walsh
Monday, 8th November 2021, 10:30 pm

Companies, including Forgemasters, hope to win work building parts for small modular nuclear reactors as government seeks new sources of reliable, secure, carbon-free energy.

Ministers announced £215m for SMRs last November but insisted on match funding. A Rolls-Royce-led consortium has raised £195m in private backing.

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A Rolls-Royce designed small modular nuclear reactor.

Now, hopes are high that, after announcing the money three times, government will finally give the project the green light.

It come as a shortage of natural gas in Europe has sent prices for electricity and gas soaring amid warnings of factory shutdowns.

The consortium, ‘Rolls-Royce SMR’, hopes to have its first power station in operation by around 2030 and go on to develop 16 across the country.

Small modular reactors are designed to be made in sections in a factory and assembled on site, with about 12 generating the same power as a traditional nuclear power station.

Andrew Storer, chief executive officer of the Nuclear Advance Manufacturing Research Centre, part of The University of Sheffield

South Yorkshire is well placed to benefit. It is home to the Nuclear AMRC research centre, Forgemasters, UKAEA’s Fusion Technology Facility and scores of companies with expertise in metals, castings, forgings and fixings.

Andrew Storer, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC said it was estimated the SMR programme could create 6,000 jobs by 2025, and up to 40,000 with a full UK fleet of 16 reactors.

Up to 80 per cent by value of the components will be made in factories in the Midlands and North of England, he added.

He added: “It's a huge opportunity for manufacturers in and around Sheffield, including Forgemasters.

“With leading companies like ITM Power in Sheffield, this region is very well placed to play a huge role as the UK moves to net-zero emissions.”

Forgemasters is a founding member of the Nuclear AMRC and has invested in machining and research into SMRs.

Chief executive David Bond said: “We have placed significant investment into class-leading machining capabilities and are pioneering research, development and advanced routes to manufacture for small modular reactor forgings, building on many years of manufacturing experience within the nuclear market.”

The company, owned by the Ministry of Defence, makes pressure vessels and other components for nuclear submarines.

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