Westinghouse signs Rolls-Royce deal; Estonia SMR study explores four designs

Our pick of the latest nuclear power news you need to know.

Westinghouse signs Rolls-Royce deal

Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Rolls-Royce’s Civil Nuclear Systems and Services business in North America.

“Creating customer value and supporting our customers’ operations is a key driver for Westinghouse,” said Patrick Fragman, president and CEO of Westinghouse.

“Acquiring Rolls-Royce will strengthen our ability to serve the nuclear operating fleet through an expanded presence in our core business while adding new digital offerings. This acquisition is an important step in our growth strategy. We look forward to welcoming the employees of Rolls-Royce to Westinghouse.”

Westinghouse said the move will expand the company’s operating plant services capabilities, enhance its digital innovation efforts, and further enable its growth.

Rolls-Royce’s nuclear business in the US offers services from engineering and software and data solutions to maintenance optimization and field services.

Rolls-Royce operates 11 sites in the US, Canada, France, and the UK. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Estonia SMR study explores four designs

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is one of four companies collaborating with Estonia’s Fermi Energia on potential deployment of a small modular reactor (SMR) in the country.

A signed Memorandum of Understanding will examine the feasibility of constructing a GEH BWRX-300 in Estonia, following Fermi Energia launching a study on the suitability of SMRs to meet the country’s electricity supply and climate change goals.

Fermi Energia said it has selected four SMR designs to be included in the feasibility study: Moltex Energy SSR-W300, Terrestrial Energy IMSR-400, GE Hitachi BWRX-300 and NuScale SMR.

“Estonia needs to consider new generation small nuclear technology to maintain energy independence and achieve climate neutrality,” said Kalev Kallemets, CEO of Fermi Energia. “Boiling water reactors have been proven in the Nordics to be safe, economic and reliable providers of carbon-free energy for decades and the design of the BWRX-300 makes it investible and highly competitive technology.”

GEH claims the BWRX-300, a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation SMR with passive safety systems, will require up to 60% less capital cost per MW when compared to other water-cooled SMRs or existing large nuclear reactor designs.

Fermi Energia plans to publish its SMR study in January 2020.

UK invests in fusion concept

Andrea Leadsom, the UK's Business and Energy Secretary, announced a 220 million pounds (US$270 million) investment over four years for the conceptual design of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP).

The STEP programme aims to construct a fusion power plant based on the design by 2040 and the announcement – made during a visit to the UK Atomic Energy Agency’s (UKAEA) Culham Science Centre – follows a commitment made in August for 20 million pounds (US$24 million) for the first year.

The STEP programme will develop and identify solutions to delivering fusion energy, using UKAEA's research facilities to deliver an integrated concept design. The objectives of STEP include delivering predictable net electricity greater than 100 MW, to use fusion energy beyond electricity production, and develop affordable lifecycle costs.

UKAEA said the latest investment will allow engineers and scientists to produce a conceptual design for the Tokamak reactor which should be completed by 2024. 

Nuclear Energy Insider