Wakefield shortlisted for Rolls Royce SMR factory

Ferrybridge selected as potential site to produce key component for new generation of Small Modular Reactor nuclear power stations

5 July 2022

The site of a former coal-fired power station in Wakefield has been shortlisted as a potential location for Rolls Royce SMR’s first factory, following submissions from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The project, worth up to £200 million and with the potential to create up to 200 highly skilled jobs, will be the first of three factories and will manufacture the ‘heavy vessels’ for its Rolls Royce’s new generation of small Modular Reactor (SMR) power stations.

The Ferrybridge site is one of eight shortlisted by Rolls Royce SMR across the UK against a clear set of criteria, from over 100 submissions put forward by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and development agencies.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “We are delighted that Rolls-Royce SMR has shortlisted Ferrybridge as a potential site for the production of its new Small Modular Reactor technology.

 “West Yorkshire has one of the strongest engineering and manufacturing supply chains in the UK and is ideally placed to become a world leader in clean energy.

 “This is exciting new technology. Initiatives like SMR will be vital to meeting our region’s ambitions to become a net zero region by 2038 with significant progress by the end of the decade, as well as the UK’s goal of becoming a net zero economy by 2050.

 “Yorkshire has a long and proud heritage as a major supplier of the UK’s energy needs. If we are successful, locating one of the Rolls-Royce SMR factories at Ferrybridge would further consolidate our region as a significant contributor in the UK’s transition to low carbon energy production - a move that would have national and international significance.”

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “This is great news for our city and the wider region. I am proud that Rolls-Royce SMR sees the potential of Wakefield and has shortlisted the Ferrybridge site for the production of a vital part of this technology.”

"In addition to creating employment opportunities, the factory would also act as a catalyst for repurposing our former coal fired power station sites to become centres of advanced manufacturing for low carbon technologies, which is a key strategic objective for Wakefield and the wider region.” 

Rolls-Royce SMR Chief Executive, Tom Samson, said: “I would like to thank everyone who sent in a submission suggesting locations in their region for the first Rolls-Royce SMR factory. The response was fantastic and shows the ambition and appetite of the UK to build and operate a fleet of SMRs which will provide affordable, low-carbon electricity for generations to come. 

 “The final location will come from the shortlist and will result in significant investment, long-term high-skilled jobs and will support the UK Government’s aspirations for levelling-up. Today’s announcement is another example of the pace of our project and why Rolls-Royce SMR is the UK’s domestic nuclear energy champion.”

 Construction will begin once Rolls-Royce SMR receives the go-ahead to build a fleet of SMRs in the UK.  As a manufacturing facility, nuclear material will not be handled on site.

Rolls-Royce SMR’s approach is a completely different way of building nuclear power stations, where 90% of the Rolls-Royce SMR built in factory conditions significantly reducing the timescales and project risk.

The other two factories will manufacture civils modules and mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) modules – which will be transported to sites and assembled into a nuclear power station that will generate 470MW of low-carbon electricity. These locations will be selected from the full list of submissions – giving all locations further opportunities to host a Rolls-Royce SMR factory.