It has been claimed that installation of a new reactor in North Wales could lead to 600 new jobs being created. Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd, where the existing nuclear plant is being decommissioned by Magnox on behalf of the NDA, has been hailed as an ‘ideal site’ for small modular reactors (SMRs) which are part of a new generation of nuclear power plant designs under consideration in the UK.
Speaking to the BBC, Snowdonia Enterprise Zone chairman John Idris Jones commented:
"I would hope that Trawsfynydd will be one of the main sites for this type of reactor. We have all the necessary resources, the lake for cooling water, we have connections to the national grid and we have an educated local workforce.”
"If the 300 mega watt reactor was built there that would lead to 300 jobs as well as 300 associated jobs in the local area."
Previously an independent report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and a separate report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee identified Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd as a potential site for a mini nuclear power plant.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) are reactors with an electricity output less than 300MW, manufactured in a factory and shipped to the point of use.
Some in the nuclear industry believe the future lies with smaller reactors particularly as new nuclear power stations become larger with escalating costs. Financing large projects can be difficult as seen with the £18bn Hinckley C nuclear power station in Somerset.
The SMR technology, which has been compared to the nuclear reactors that have powered submarines since the 1950s, is expected to provide greater flexibility than previous or current reactors, with lower capital investment, shorter assembly time and a wider choice of possible locations.
NuScale Power, an American company that designs and markets small modular reactors, anticipates building a small-scale nuclear reactor by the mid 2020s in the United States. However, we may have to wait until 2030 before the first small scale reactor is up and running in the UK.
The UK government has invited companies, including Rolls Royce, to submit designs for small-scale reactors and it is expected that further policy announcements will be made in the coming months.