NuScale submits designs for small, modular nuclear reactor
- NuScale Power has submitted designs for a new type of reactor to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the first step towards permitting smaller facilities that could be developed and deployed quickly.
- NuScale said its small modular reactor (SMR) commercial power plant design is the first ever to be submitted to the NRC.
- SMR designs aim for faster permitting and constructing, possibly relying on off-site development as the reactors are small enough to be trucked in. NuScale's reactor would produce 50 MW, and up to a dozen could be connected to create a scalable generation product.
It will take months just for the NRC to determine if the 12,000-page application is complete, and NuScale said it would be another three to four years for the designs to be certified. But the submission is a milestone in the quest to develop a new kind of nuclear reactor—one that could keep the industry growing, rather than contracting.
“We reached this tremendous milestone through the efforts of more than 800 people over eight years,” NuScale COO and CNO Dale Atkinson said in a statement. “We have documented, in extensive detail, the design conceived by Dr. Jose Reyes more than a decade ago. We are confident that we have submitted a comprehensive and quality application, and we look forward to working with the NRC during its review.”
There have been several premature nuclear closures announced in recent years. Most recently, Entergy Corp. said last month that it will shutter its Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan in 2018. Operating costs make it difficult to compete with cheaper gas, and enormous capital costs make development of a new traditional nuke difficult. The hope is for SMR plants that will be cheaper and quicker to develop, as well as cheaper to operate.
NuScale has already made plans for the first 12-module plant it will construct. The project will be owned by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), and located at the Idaho National Laboratory. Energy Northwest will operate the facility.
The project has a target commercial operation date of 2026.
In February last year, the the U.S. Department of Energy announced an agreement allowing UAMPS access to DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory site to develop the project. The federal government has shown growing interest in smaller reactors, which typically feature compact, scalable designs and could potentially supply low-carbon baseload energy to small electric systems.
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter