USA Leads Charge On Small Modular Reactors With NuScale Design Ready For Construction

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As the energy source of the future, safe, reliable and affordable nuclear power hardly needs an introduction. Power-starved Germans have re-embraced it; the French have been powered by it for nearly 60 years.

Altogether, there are 30 countries where you’ll find nearly 450 nuclear reactors currently operating – as well as the Germans and French – Americans, Canadians, Japanese and Chinese are well aware of the benefits of nuclear power. Another 15 countries are currently building 60 reactors among them.

Nuclear power output accounts for over 11% of global electricity production. But all that power is generated at scale. Whereas, what promises to change the way that nuclear energy is produced and distributed is much smaller, and the Americans are leading the charge.

Jeremey Beaman reports on how NuScale Power has won not only the confidence of US regulators, but a contract to build America’s first 50MW, SMR power plant at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory.

First Small Modular Reactor Gets Certification From Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington Examiner
Jeremy Beaman
20 January 2023

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the first-ever certification Friday of a small modular reactor design, a big step in the process of developing a new generation of new and more flexible nuclear reactors.

The NRC approved the reactor design from NuScale Power, making it the first SMR design to be certified by the regulator and only the seventh reactor design cleared for use in the United States.

“SMRs are no longer an abstract concept,” said Kathryn Huff, assistant secretary for nuclear energy at the Department of Energy. “They are real, and they are ready for deployment thanks to the hard work of NuScale, the university community, our national labs, industry partners, and the NRC.”

NuScale is one among many nuclear energy companies working to re-imagine the legacy nuclear reactor technologies developed in the 20th century by scaling them down, with one leading motivation being to make the construction of nuclear power plants more cost-effective.

The company, which was awarded a contract to build an SMR power plant on-site at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory, celebrated certification of the design Friday of its advanced light-water reactor. The reactor uses power modules that each can generate 50 megawatts of electricity.

By comparison, the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia are each rated at 1,250 megawatts.

The Biden administration has prioritized the advancement of new nuclear technologies, as well as the preservation of existing and operating power plants.

The Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats’ new green energy and healthcare spending law, offers a mix of tax incentives to nuclear power generators and funding to produce the uranium necessary to fuel advanced reactors.

Some in the nuclear sector, as well as members of Congress in both parties, have called for the NRC to be reformed due to the delays in certifying new reactor designs and licensing new construction.

The agency began operations in 1975 with a single mandate to ensure public safety. Some reform proponents say Congress needs to give it another mandate to enable commerce.

Before Friday, the commission’s last new reactor design to be certified was in September 2019.

The NRC has not licensed a new nuclear installation from start to finish in its history. When Georgia’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 come online, they will be the first.
Washington Examiner