NuScale group will reapply for small reactor research funds

NuScale, one of the three groups that had vied to establish a small modular reactor development project at Savannah Ri­ver Site, affirmed plans this week to pursue a second round of funding assistance offered by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The company, based in Port­land, Ore., said in a news release that it is “eager to compete” for the newest offer of matching funds to support efforts to design, license and manufacture portable nuclear power reactors.

“Our design offers the Department of Energy a plant with innovative new safety features and true scalability from 45 to 540 megawatts – making it adaptable to fit multiple potential applications,” said John Hopkins, NuScale’s chairman and CEO. He said the group’s proposed design includes self-cooling safety features that would survive a Fukushima-type event.

Small modular reactors – which are about one-third the size of conventional reactors – have compact designs that are expected to offer safety, construction and economic benefits. Proponents say they can be made in factories and be ready to use upon arrival at sites, reducing capital costs and construction times.

NuScale, Gen4 Energy and Holtec In­ternational subsidiary SMR had expressed interest in using SRS as a venue for such projects, but they were passed over in November when Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the inaugural grant would go to a group led by Babcock & Wilcox in partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bechtel International.

The second round of funding assistance was announced this month, stipulating that new mini-reactor project proposals must have potential to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and achieve commercial operation around 2025.

SRS had identified eight parcels that could be suitable for nuclear programs that could bring new missions – and jobs – to the area.

NuScale’s statement this week said it has the backing of Fluor Corp., a global engineering firm with a history of nuclear experience. Its subsidiaries include SRS management contractor Savan­nah River Nuclear Solutions, which operates the site with other partners.

Any chosen projects must have at least 50 percent private funding to qualify for portions of the $452 million identified for the Energy Department’s Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support program.

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