A plan to build and demonstrate a small modular nuclear reactor at Savannah River Site could evolve into a major manufacturing facility in the region, according to the chief executive officer of the private firm involved in the project.
"We think this is a very viable business," said John "Grizz" Deal, whose company, Hyperion Power Generation, plans to license and market a new breed of small, commercial reactors.
In October, the company announced a partnership with Savannah River National Laboratory in which private funds would be combined with the site's facilities and expertise to demonstrate a new line of portable, efficient reactors that could someday be deployed to power remote mining operations, military bases and other sites.
"We want to increase the U.S. competitiveness, and this is the place to do it," said Deal, the featured speaker during Wednesday night's Edward Teller Lecture sponsored by Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness. "Our goal is to turn on the first reactor somewhere in this community. And we'd also like to commit to building our factory here at Savannah River Site."
Such a manufacturing facility, he said, could create jobs and expand the region's tax base, while helping the nation remain competitive in a world where energy demand is expected to increase 76 percent by 2030.
The first reactor, costing $150 million to $200 million to build, could be completed and deployed by 2020, and its construction and operation could bring several hundred jobs. Most of the money will come from private sources.
Deal said the reactors, which must be licensed by federal regulators, would generate about 25 megawatts and last eight to 10 years. They would be portable, safe and factory-fueled.
Hyperion is one of two firms planning small reactors at SRS. Wilmington, N.C.-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy announced plans in October to create a prototype of GE's PRISM reactor, which recycles nuclear fuel to generate electricity. The PRISM's design would mostly power Savannah River Site.