Balfour Beatty backs US mini nuclear reactors for UK

The US firm is presently working with Hyundai Engineering and Construction to advance projects using its SMR-160 pressurised water reactors in the UK, which generate 160MW.

Under the new agreement, Balfour Beatty will act as the main UK construction partner and collaborate with HDEC on the civil construction and installation of the mechanical, electrical and heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

The design is a smaller rival to Rolls Royce’s small pressurized water reactors. The British engineering giant is also aiming to build SMR power stations and has teamed up with a consortium including BAM Nuttall and Laing O’Rourke.

It aims to complete its first 490MW unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.

Now Holtec International is planning to start its UK regulatory acceptance process of its SMR-160 reactors in 2023. When granted, this could enable the start of the construction of the first UK unit in as early as 2028.

Stephen Tarr, chief executive for Transport, Energy & Power Major Projects at Balfour Beatty, said: “We look forward to working with Holtec International to drive forward clean energy solutions. Our partnership will build on our long-standing experience and expertise in delivering nuclear projects and will ultimately support the UK’s transition towards a Net Zero future.”

Dr. Richard M. Springman, senior vice president of International Projects & Executive Committee Member of Holtec International said: “The United Kingdom is at a turning point as it navigates through this energy crisis. The decisions made today will impact how future generations in the UK live and work, and the viability of its economy as a whole.

“I believe it will need multiple, complementary nuclear power plant designs based on proven pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology already operating in the United Kingdom to assure carbon-free energy security ten years from now; and we have to start now.”