Collaboration to work on development of SMRs for UK

Plans to deploy small modular reactors in the UK has moved forward with a Memorandum of Understanding between Sheffield Forgemasters, X-energy and Cavendish Nuclear to collaborate on next generation reactors.

An artist’s impression of an Xe-100 power plant
An artist’s impression of an Xe-100 power plant - X-Energy

The companies will explore opportunities around the deployment of a fleet of Xe-100 Generation IV Advanced Reactors in the UK, based on High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor technology.

Sheffield Forgemasters’ experience in the development of nuclear forgings and castings will inform the planned build of up to 40 Xe-100s across the country. 

In a statement, Dominic Ashmore, head of strategy and business development – clean energy at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “Following the key step forward recently made by Great British Nuclear [GBN] to boost UK nuclear power generation through Small Modular Reactor [SMR] development, GBN is also developing a route to market for other technologies, including advanced nuclear and a consultation will be published this autumn.

“The UK’s civil nuclear development is part of our business strategy and this MOU is the latest in a line of agreements that we have signed with a number of SMR companies looking to deploy in the UK market.

“Our work with X-Energy and Cavendish Nuclear will provide specialist engineering services, support and components including forgings, to the UK Xe-100 deployment programme.

Sheffield Forgemasters will undertake a detailed review of the Xe-100 forgings and look to facilitate more definitive cost estimates and production plans.”

The Xe-100 reactor can produce high temperature heat and steam for industrial applications as well as electricity. The MoU is the latest step in building up a UK supply chain to ensure the benefits of the programme flow to British companies.

Carol Tansley, VP, UK New Build Projects at X-energy said: “Our technology will be the first small modular reactor operational in the US and we want to build on that progress by moving forward quickly with our UK programme.

“In delivering that fleet we want to maximise the involvement of the UK supply chain as part of our target to achieve 80 per cent by value UK content, and the MoU with a company with the experience and capabilities of Sheffield Forgemasters is a crucial step in that journey.

“A UK fleet of 40 reactors would not only see us play a crucial role in delivering clean electricity and industrial decarbonisation but also bring huge opportunities for companies right across the UK. The MoU, along with our partnership with Cavendish Nuclear and our recent appointment of Howden, shows how we are determined to ensure those benefits are realised by the UK’s world-leading supply chain.”