Laing O’Rourke has joined the Rolls-Royce led British consortium looking to win government funding to develop its small modular reactor (SMR) programme.
The engineering firm joins Rolls-Royce, Amec Foster Wheeler, Arup, Nuvia and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in the UK SMR joint venture, which is designing an innovative nuclear SMR plant.
A government funding competition opened last March and was expected to close by the autumn. However, seismic political events have meant the competition deadline has been delayed.
“The UK’s industrial future relies on a diversity of power sources and through this collaboration with other industry leaders, Laing O’Rourke is pleased to bring its innovation and delivery expertise to the development of small modular reactors,” said Laing O’Rourke group technical director Paul Westbury.
“The innovative approach to construction and technology being applied to this project showcases modern forms of construction and is another strand to the off-site manufacturing approach that Laing O’Rourke has continued to invest in.”
According to Rolls-Royce the SMR reactors would be factory manufactured, reducing risks and costs associated with nuclear projects. Reactors would reach 16m high and 4m in diameter and plants could take just five years from construction to first generating electricity.
“By engaging with each other right at the design stage, we can optimise the entire plant design for modularity, for reduced risk and reduced cost as well,” said a spokesperson for the UK SMR programme.
The consortium argues a UK SMR programme would create vital intellectual property rights for Britain, and could create a £400bn global export market if the UK were a leader in the field.
Other SMR developers have expressed an interest in the UK’s development potential, including the China National Nuclear Corporation.