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B&W to restructure Small Modular Reactor program to focus on tech development, slowing development

14 April 2014

The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W) plans to restructure its mPower Small Modular Reactor program (earlier post) to focus on technology development. Without the ability to secure significant additional investors or customer Engineering, Procurement and Construction contracts to provide the financial support necessary to develop and deploy mPower reactors, the current development pace will be slowed, the company said.

B&W, which had earlier signed a funding agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) (earlier post), notified DOE on 9 April of its plans for reduced spending, indicating it would work with the DOE and other stakeholders during the next one to two months to confirm the best path forward to develop a mutually agreeable plan including program milestones for continuing the cost-shared industry partnership program.

B&W said that if its partnership with DOE is preserved, the focus will be on licensing activities (Design Certification Application and site permitting/licensing) with a target to have technology ready in the mid-2020s.

If not, B&W will focus on targeted areas of Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) technology and key licensing issues.

B&W expects to invest up to $15 million annually in the program, beginning the third quarter of 2014.

While we have made notable progress in developing a world-class technology, there is still significant work involved in bringing this climate-friendly technology to reality. The support provided by DOE, Congress, the Tennessee Valley Authority and our other partners has been critical and valuable. We look forward to working with our stakeholders to find the most efficient way to move this technology toward licensing and deployment in the mid-2020 timeframe.

—E. James Ferland, President and CEO of B&W

April 14, 2014 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

This is what happens when you give 16 trillion dollars in tax breaks over 30+ years, the money goes out of the country and development dollars dry up. It used to be the government brought in revenue to do research, now it is cell phones, video games and Twitter.

Federally-funded research has been more or less stable at USD64-68B annually (that's constant 2013 $) from FY'02-14, with the exception of a USD75B+ peak in FY'09 from stimulus spending. Before anyone jumps on it, DoD % of Federal R&D as of FY'13-14 is lowest in two decades.

B&W presently has USD79M of US.gov bucks available whenever they are ready to meet the requirements of the agreement already signed with DoE.

Really, we spend a huge wad of Federal money on R&D. I doubt there was much R&D tax credit eligibility in Twitter (or similar) expenditures after establishment of the enterprise because of the clear exclusions:
-- Research conducted after the beginning of commercial production of the business component;
-- Adaptation of existing business components;
-- Duplication of existing business components;
-- Reverse Engineering;
-- Surveys, studies, activity relating to management function/technique, market research, routine data collection, or routine testing/quality control;
-- Software developed for internal use;
-- Foreign research conducted outside the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any possession of the United States;
-- Research related to social sciences, arts, or humanities;
-- Research to the extent funded by any grant, contract, or otherwise by another person (or governmental entity).

If you've ever been part of the annual budget scrubs looking for potential credit candidates, you'll know that the credits are there but they are very clearly defined.

One of my kids operates on a NSF grant that she won; the competition is tough but the money is there.

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