First plant could be up and running by end of decade 

Balfour Beatty could be among the first contractors to build a small modular nuclear reactor in the UK after signing an agreement with US energy firm Holtec. 

Under a memorandum of understanding announced yesterday, the UK’s biggest builder will work with Hyundai Engineering and Construction as main construction partner to Holtec, working alongside the Korean firm on civil construction and the installation of M&E systems. 

Screenshot 2022-12-20 at 11.09.28

How Holtec’s SMR-160 small modular reactor will look

Florida-based Holtec is poised to enter to generic design assessment process for its SMR-160 pressurised light-water reactors next year with the intention of beginning construction on its first UK unit by 2028. 

The company plans to deploy 32 SMR units in serial production by 2050, which would amount to a capacity of 5.1GW. 

The UK government has set itself a goal of 24GW for total nuclear energy generation by the same year, with small modular expected to make up a significant element of that. 

Last March’s energy security strategy set out plans to bring two new schemes, which could include SMRs, to a final investment decision within the lifetime of the next parliament. 

>> Plans to build eight new nuclear plants announced in government energy strategy

>> Agreement marks step forward for plans to build small nuclear facility in North Wales

News of Balfour’s entry into the SMR market comes as Rolls-Royce, the UK’s leading developer of SMR technology, announced a three site shortlist for the location of the first of at least three planned heavy pressure vessel factories, which will produce components for its fleet of reactors. 

The engineering firm will decide between Teesworks in Teesside, Gateway in Deeside, north Wales, and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sunderland and South Tyneside.