North Wales site has potential for UK’s first small modular reactor

Trawsfynydd was identified as a potential small modular reactor site by Parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee last year. Stuart Nathan reports

There is currently no site in the UK approved for building a power station based on SMR technology. However, there is no shortage of potential sites and Trawsfynydd in North Wales is mentioned regularly.

Situated in the Snowdonia National Park, Trawsfynydd is the site of the only nuclear power station in the UK not to be built on the coast. The twin-reactor Magnox station, which closed in 1991 and is now being decommissioned, is on the shore of a large artificial lake created to supply a local hydroelectric scheme still in operation.

Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Plant
The twin-reactor Magnox station is on the shore of a large artificial lake

The lake is large enough to cool 700MW of reactor capacity, and the site has an existing grid connection and is government owned, making it technically suitable and relatively easy to designate as a new nuclear site. Moreover, said John Idris Jones, chairman of the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, there are other geographical advantages: with nearby ports and a bypass scheme already planned for the area, it will have the transport infrastructure to bring large components to the site, and North Wales is close to another identified new nuclear site, Wylfa on Anglesey, and to nuclear centres of excellence on Deeside and in Sheffield and Manchester, as well as Sellafield.

Trawsfynydd was identified as a potential SMR site by Parliament’s Welsh Affairs Committee last year, and in 2014 an IMechE report on SMR potential recommended that the site be designated for building and demonstrating SMR technology. The region has been involved with the nuclear sector for decades, is in favour of a new plant and badly needs high-quality, skilled, high-wage jobs.

Click here to find out how UK engineers are at the vanguard of efforts to develop small modular reactors 

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