New consortium aims to develop a fleet of low carbon power stations

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THE WORLD’S second largest independent nuclear engineering company has announced it will become part of a UK consortium that aims to design and build low-carbon compact nuclear power stations.

The consortium, comprised of Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Laing O’Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear AMRC, Rolls-Royce, Jacobs, Wood and TWI, is working together to design ‘a first of a kind power station that will be at the heart of the UK’s low carbon economy.’

Peter Higton, UK Managing Director of Assystem, commented on the news: What this consortium is trying to achieve is very exciting for the UK economy, bringing our varied industrial expertise in design, technology, construction and manufacturing together to tackle climate change and help achieve net zero by 2050 alongside renewables.

“These new compact power stations produce low carbon electricity, are innovative, and can be designed, manufactured and built in the UK.”

The project aims to build a fleet of up to 16 cutting-edge compact power stations which will create 40,000 jobs in the UK.

Each power station will provide enough electricity (440 MWe) to charge 63,000 electric vehicles, 88 million smartphones and power 40 million light bulbs, enough energy to power a city the size of Leeds.

The components for the power stations will be manufactured in sections in regional UK factories before being transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy.

This will reduce costs by avoiding weather disruptions and secures gradual efficiency savings by using streamlined and standardised manufacturing processes for its components.

Working as a fleet, these power stations will bring a secure supply of electricity to the UK when reliance on fossil fuels decreases to meet the net zero carbon emissions target in 2050.

In a statement, Paul Stein, chief technology officer for Rolls-Royce, commented on the consortium: “Tackling climate change requires collaboration across industries and governments to find effective, affordable and sustainable ways of achieving net zero by 2050.

“The consortium’s work with the government shows that action is being taken to decarbonise our economy and meet our society’s vital and growing power needs.

“This is a very positive step forward to this next phase of the programme.”

Assystem, which has its UK headquarters in Blackburn, has reported it will be bringing expertise from the design and build of nuclear projects across the world to the new power stations and delivering enhanced engineering services by combining nuclear expertise with the digital and data tools to provide a reliable basis to move production forward.

The company will lead on the Turbine Island, Cooling Water Island and Balance of Plant development of structures and systems through Model Based Systems Engineering, Generative design and original Project Delivery Model Approach.

The consortium is match-funding the £18 million investment confirmed by the UK Government organisation, UK Research and Innovation.

The first power station is targeted to be built and connected to the national electricity grid by 2029, with the support of legislation to enable the programme.

Laing O’Rourke’s Partnership and Innovation Leader, Adam Locke, added: “This is a great milestone to achieve after many years of collaboration: building on previous award-winning research into applying DfMA to nuclear, combined with our experience at Hinkley, and manufacturing capability positions us uniquely to help achieve this goal of low cost nuclear power.

“We look forward to working with our partners to develop our approach to the next stage.”