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X-energy, Cavendish team up for UK HTGR deployment

British nuclear services company Cavendish Nuclear has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with X-energy of the USA to act as its deployment partner for High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors (HTGRs) in the UK. The UK plans to build an HTGR as the centrepiece of its Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development & Demonstration Programme.

In a joint statement, the companies said the MoU complements the support Cavendish Nuclear – part of Babcock International Group – has for all three nuclear streams in the UK government’s Energy Security Strategy: large-scale reactors; small modular reactors (SMRs); and advanced modular reactors (AMRs) such as HTGRs with the capability to focus on industrial heat and hydrogen.

“Together the companies would combine world-leading US technology with the project integration, manufacturing, modularisation and O&M capability of Cavendish Nuclear,” they said.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Cavendish Nuclear and X-energy to bring together the collective breadth and depth of our expertise and experience to forge opportunities to develop and deploy HTGRs in the UK,” Cavendish Nuclear Managing Director Mick Gornall said. “The UK government’s choice of HTGRs as its preferred technology for the Advanced Modular Reactor Research Development & Demonstration Programme, gives us the opportunity to explore the significant contribution X-energy’s technology can make to decarbonising the wider energy sector.”

X-energy CEO Clay Sell added: “Cavendish Nuclear is an experienced and proven nuclear innovation leader with the capabilities and expertise to combine their best-in-class deployment with X-energy’s unparalleled technology at scale to meet the needs of customers, consumers, and businesses across the UK. Trans-Atlantic collaboration is a critical part of strengthening global energy security and reliability, and this partnership can help pave the way to safer and cleaner energy for all.”

The Xe-100 is a Generation IV advanced reactor design which X-energy says is based on decades of HTGR operation, research, and development. Designed to operate as a standard 320 MWe four-pack power plant or scaled in units of 80 MWe, it is engineered to deliver reliable and load-following grid-scale power to electricity systems and to pair seamlessly with renewables. At 200 MWt of 565°C steam, the Xe-100 is also suitable for other power applications including mining and heavy industry.

The Xe-100 is one of two advanced SMR designs selected by the US Department of Energy to receive federal support for the construction of a demonstration plant under the Advanced Reactor Development Program. X-energy aims to site a four-unit Xe-100 plant in Washington state as early as 2027.

Canadian utility Ontario Power Generation has also selected the Xe-100 as a potential technology for an SMR which it aims to have in operation at its Darlington site as early as 2028. In September last year, Cameco and X-energy entered a non-binding and non-exclusive MoU to explore possible areas of cooperation to support the potential future deployment, fuelling and servicing of Xe-100 reactors in Canada and the USA.

In December 2021, UK energy minister Greg Hands announced that HTGRs had been selected as the preferred advanced reactor technology for the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development & Demonstration Programme. The programme counts on GBP170 million (USD210 million) of government funding from a GBP385 million package intended to accelerate development of highly flexible nuclear technologies.

The goal of the research programme is to “prove the potential” of advanced reactors and have a demonstration unit in operation “by the early 2030s, at the latest”, the UK government has previously said. The key focus would be to produce high-temperature heat which could be used for hydrogen production, to supply industrial processes and potentially district heating as well as electricity generation.

In February, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it was seeking feedback on the proposed plan ahead of a formal Invitation to Tender for the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development & Demonstration programme. It said the intention is launch a formal Invitation to Tender for the first phase of the programme by the end of June.

Source: World Nuclear News