GE Hitachi signs contract for the first commercial N American small modular reactor
29 January 2023
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), Ontario Power Generation (OPG), SNC-Lavalin and Aecon have signed a contract for the deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) at OPG’s Darlington New Nuclear Project site. This is the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America.
The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe water-cooled, natural circulation Small Modular Reactor (SMR) with passive safety systems that leverages the design and licensing basis of GEH’s US NRC-certified ESBWR. As the tenth evolution of the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), the BWRX-300 represents the simplest, yet most innovative BWR design since GE began developing nuclear reactors in 1955.
BWRX-300 small modular reactor
This contract is an important milestone and solidifies our position as the leading SMR technology provider. We aim to deliver the first SMR in North America and, in doing so, lead the start of a new era of nuclear power that will provide zero-emission energy generation, energy security and energy reliability around the globe. We can’t express our appreciation enough for the leadership role that OPG and the Province of Ontario are taking for a project that will benefit Ontario, Canada and the world.—GEH President and CEO Jay Wileman
The multi-party agreement, through which GEH is to provide the reactor design, covers a range of project activities including design, engineering licensing support, construction, testing, training and commissioning.
In August 2022, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) began planning and preliminary licensing for potential deployment of a BWRX-300 at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. TVA has entered into a collaboration with OPG to coordinate efforts to move SMR technology forward. In addition, the NRC and CNSC are collaborating on licensing the two projects.
In June 2022, SaskPower announced that it selected the BWRX-300 for potential deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s. In Poland, ORLEN Synthos Green Energy (OSGE) and its partners started the pre-licensing process by submitting an application to Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency for assessment of the BWRX-300. OSGE plans to deploy a fleet of BWRX-300s with the potential for deployment of the first of those units by the end of this decade. To support the global deployment of the BWRX-300, GEH has memoranda of understanding or other agreements in place with companies in Canada, Poland, UK, US and Sweden among others. GEH has also begun the licensing process for the BWRX-300 in the UK.
Advanced nuclear technologies such as the BWRX-300 are a key pillar of GEH’s energy transition leadership. In addition to helping customers achieve decarbonization goals, the BWRX-300 is designed to reduce construction and operating costs below other nuclear power generation technologies. Specifically, the BWRX-300 leverages a combination of existing fuel that is currently used in operating reactors (and does not require HALEU), plant simplifications, proven components and a design based on already licensed reactor technology.
What is the levelized cost of electricity for this?
Conventional nuclear is at least 4 times more than renewables.
Posted by: dursun | 30 January 2023 at 08:06 PM
Gee-whiz Batman, a 10% cheaper "nucular" boondoggle, but only on the 20th unit - sign us all up!
This is so wrong on so many levels.
Posted by: JC79749566 | 31 January 2023 at 06:13 AM
Levelised costs do not take into account properly costs for intermittency, back up and so on.
The point of small nuclear is to reduce build times, and hence costs.
Still likely to be more expensive than renewables, given the ludicrous loading against risks which would bankrupt any other industrial venture, simply add as many zeros as you fancy to risk factors, and put in an infinitely costly regulatory process.
Still, renewables are likely to come out cheaper than nuclear over the next few years.
But there is a value in a diversified energy supply, as events in the Ukraine show.
France is pretty glad to have in spite of hassles with maintenance a very large nuclear fleet.
Posted by: Davemart | 31 January 2023 at 11:47 AM
Does you comment that "Conventional nuclear is at least 4 times more than renewables" include the cost storage and/or backup power? Or is based simply on the cost of the nameplate capacity of the renewables. Typically, a wind turbine is doing well to average 20% of its nameplate capacity and 18% is more typical for on-shore. Off-shore wind has better availability but the cost of installation and service is higher. Fixed solar is pretty much limited to about 18% even in sunny locations by physics.
Anyway, I hope that the BWRX-300 small modular reactor works out and gets built in volume along with NuScale's small modular reactor and even better would be the Natrium sodium fast reactor combined with a molten salt energy storage system that is being developed by TerraPower and GE Hitachi. I do believe that it is practical to go fossil fuel free without nuclear power and that we would be best off to have about 70% of our power needs met with nuclear power.
Posted by: sd | 31 January 2023 at 12:30 PM
@sd You can take up your questions with the investment firm of Lazard Frères & Co.
Lazard's Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis—Version 15.0
Posted by: dursun | 31 January 2023 at 06:35 PM
I read thru Lazard's Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis and also looked up what Wikipedia had to say about LCOE. Basically, it an sccounting of the value of the electricity produced divided by the cost of the producing the electricity over the lifetime of the project. However, this does not take into account the cost of the electricity that must be produced or purchased when the renewables are not available nor does it take into account the cost of the transmission lines needed to collect the energy from different locations. Also, they had an unrealistically low life of 40 years for the nuclear power. 60 to 80 years would be more realistic.
Anyway, their analysis would be useful if you were just looking at recovering an investment in building renewables but for an energy utility you would also need to cover the cost of storage and/or peaking plants plus whatever the costs are for recovering the energy over a dispersed area. Also, if you do not have sufficient backup power, a higher the percentage of renewables will cause a system instability and blackouts.
I still do not believe that it is practical to go fossil fuel free without nuclear power and that we would be best off to have about 70% of our power needs met with nuclear power. Also, if we had sufficient nuclear power we could tear down the ugly wind turbines:)/2 /2 because I am at least half serious.
Posted by: sd | 01 February 2023 at 09:46 AM
Quite right. As I also noted, levelised costs do not account for backup and so on, so give a very misleading picture.
' I still do not believe that it is practical to go fossil fuel free without nuclear power and that we would be best off to have about 70% of our power needs met with nuclear power.'
I am a long time, confirmed advocate of nuclear, but if you are anywhere fairly near the equator, where in fact most people in 2050 will live, there is little seasonal variation, so there is pretty much only diurnal to cope with ( that is a slight overstatement, but near enough ) and even taking into account backup etc in most places renewables look unbeatable to me on a cost basis.
It is completely different further away from the equator, and there is a case for nuclear in North America, and more particularly in Europe, northern China and in Japan/Korea.
I don't put it at 70% though, but simply to cover baseload, so in the case of the UK which I am most familiar with around 20GW or so of power.
That would enormously cut down on the amount of solar needed, and land and resource use, whilst ensuring security of supply through diversity.
Of course, hopefully small advanced nuclear can change the economics greatly, and hence the optimal mix, but I can't really comment on that, as we have not got solid figures from running 4th gen reactors of course to give a firm grip on what their costs look like.
Posted by: Davemart | 01 February 2023 at 01:01 PM