Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Mini Nuclear Reactors to Be Built by Sheffield Forgemasters

  • Vessel head to be build in Northern England by end of 2017
  • Program funded by U.K. government and Fluor’s NuScale Power

Britain’s ambition to build small modular nuclear plants took a step forward as the nation’s last independent steelmaker said it will work with Fluor Corp.’s NuScale Power to make components.

Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd. will forge a large civil nuclear reactor vessel head by the end of 2017. It’s part of a 4 million-pound ($5.17 million) program funded by the government-backed Innovate U.K. agency, according to a statement.

NuScale, majority owned by Fluor, is providing an undisclosed sum of additional funding for the program, a spokesman for the company said by e-mail.

Britain is trying to secure new baseload power as it closes all of its coal-fired plants by 2025. Conventional nuclear power is proving expensive and time consuming, while most companies don’t think it’s profitable to build new natural gas-fired stations.

The Treasury in November said it will plow 250 million pounds into research and development of small nuclear plants over the next five years. The aim is to build one of the first commercial units in the 2020s. Sheffield Forgemasters will build the vessel head regardless of who wins the competition, the NuScale spokesman said.

The project could represent a major opportunity for the U.K.’s only large forgemaster, which said it would lay off up to 100 workers in January. The global market for small modular reactors may total as much as 400 billion pounds by 2035, according to a report in late 2014 by the National Nuclear Laboratory, which advises the U.K. government. 

“Sheffield Forgemasters’s skill, expertise and heritage is known the world over,” Tom Mundy, NuScale Power managing director for U.K. and Europe, said in a statement.

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