April 22, 2024

Agreements signed between Balfour Beatty, Holtec and Hyundai to advance SMR technology

Holtec has signed new memoranda of understanding with Balfour Beatty and Mott MacDonald, as well as South Korean Hyundai’s construction department to collaborate on advancing small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear technology.

The partnership will take the delivery of international nuclear giant Holtec’s SMR technology, SMR-300, a step forward after it was shortlisted in October to receive support from new public body Great British Nuclear (GBN).

GBN chose designs which are considered to be the most able to deliver operational and viable SMRs by the mid-2030s.

The SMR-300 design is currently undergoing Generic Design Assessment (GDA) by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, along with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.

GDA, which is undertaken by the UK’s nuclear watchdog, forms part of the approval process for nuclear reactor designs.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero made the request to the regulators following its readiness review of the Holtec International application. The government had awarded £30M to Holtec Britain to help it see the SMR-300 through the first two phases of the GDA process.

During the GDA process, the watchdogs will assess the safety, security and environmental implications of the new reactor design and provide the confidence that it is capable of meeting the UK’s statutory regulatory requirements.

The partnerships between Balfour Beatty, Holtec and Hyundai build on the Clean Energy Partnership signed between the UK and Korean governments late last year and the agreement with the USA on civil nuclear energy in summer 2023.

The signing event was hosted by the ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the UK, Yoon Yeocheol, at the Korean embassy in London.

Mott MacDonald was appointed to the role of delivery partner for the assessment phase of SMR-300 in December.

Hyundai, a major construction in South Korea, has delivered 18 nuclear plants in the nation.

SMR-300 is a pressurised water reactor (PWR) technology based on existing UK and US standards and uses PWR fuel similar to that already used at Sizewell B, and other new UK reactors under development, including Hinkley Point C.

The UK has set a target of 24GW of nuclear capacity by 2050, which would cover up to a quarter of the country’s projected electricity demand.

Holtec Britain senior ddviser Julia King said: “Holtec Britain is committed to delivering SMRs in the UK creating high-value well-paid jobs and providing clean energy to help us reach net zero. This agreement is another important step on this journey.”

Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said: “The next decade of infrastructure growth is going to be defined by energy security and net zero. Nuclear is a critical part of that transition.

“The UK needs a clean low-cost reliable energy supply in order to help re-industrialise the UK. Our SMR partnership with Holtec, Hyundai E&C and Mott MacDonald will redefine on time and on budget delivery and bring best delivery from around the world.”

Hyundai Engineering and Construction chief executive Young-Joon Yoon said: “Four distinct companies with unique capabilities have come together today to take another step forward in UK SMR delivery and the GBN competition.

“We believe our collaboration between leading UK, US and Korean businesses will refresh the capacity and urgency to deliver on nuclear and net zero ambitions set by the UK government.”

Holtec president of global clean energy opportunities Rick Springman said: “Today is an important step for our SMR program in the UK; we assembled a world-class team that can deliver gigawatts to the grid with our SMR-300 technology, contributing meaningfully and reliably to the British energy security strategy.”

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