The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced an award to NuScale Power LLC to support a new project to design, certify and help commercialize innovative small modular reactors (SMRs) in the United States. Through a five-year cost-share agreement, DOE will invest up to half of the total project cost, with the project’s industry partners matching this investment by at least one-to-one. The specific total will be negotiated between the Energy Department and NuScale and will be derived from the total $452 million identified for the Department’s Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support program.
This project represents a significant investment in first-of-a-kind engineering and design certification for small modular reactors in the United States. The award follows a funding opportunity announcement in March 2013. (Earlier post.)
The Energy Department investment will help NuScale obtain Nuclear Regulatory Commission design certification and achieve commercial operation around 2025, while providing innovative and effective solutions for enhanced reactor safety, operations and performance.
The Energy Department’s cooperative agreements require that the reactors be built domestically. The project will be based in Oregon and will support additional suppliers and operations in California, Idaho, Washington, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, Texas and Maryland.
Small modular reactors—approximately one-third the size of current nuclear power plants—have compact, scalable designs that are expected to offer a host of safety, construction and economic benefits, DOE said. The Energy Department is seeking small modular reactor designs that can be made in factories and transported to sites where they would be ready for installation upon arrival. The smaller size could reduce both capital costs and construction times—helping to provide U.S. utilities with more nuclear energy options and support new low-carbon capacity for small electric grids and locations that cannot support the traditional large reactor designs.