NuScale, Idaho National Lab officials testify about SMRs

Officials from NuScale Power and the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory testified about small modular reactors (SMR) and advanced nuclear technology during a May 17 hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Oregon-based NuScale is working together with the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) to site 600 MW of SMR units at the INL grounds in Idaho.

The parties are targeting commercial operation in 2024.

The exact location is currently being identified through a rigorous site selection process, NuScale Chairman and CEO John Hopkins told the panel. Energy Northwest has joined this project by holding the first right of offer to operate the UAMPS project.

“The NuScale plant is expected to be delivered to UAMPS for a price of approximately $3 billion. We plan to construct it on a schedule of approximately 36 months from the start of safety‐related construction through commissioning of the first module,” Hopkins said.

NuScale is majority-owned by Fluor.

“The NuScale design is dramatically smaller than today’s pressurized water reactors and eliminates the need for safety-related electrically‐driven pumps, motors and valves necessary to protect the nuclear core. It can be factory‐manufactured and transported to a site via rail, truck or barge,” Hopkins said.

The genesis of NuScale’s 50-MW SMR units began more than 15 years ago with a DOE grant through the Idaho National Laboratory, Hopkins said.

“The U.S. cannot safely, securely, and affordably meet increasing electricity demand and stringent clean air goals with renewable energy alone,” said Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters, Ph.D.

“The U.S. has the opportunity to regain domestic manufacturing and supply chain capabilities lost when we did not build new reactors during the last 30 years,” Peters said.

Peters also praised the Obama administration’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program.

“We are on the cusp of another fundamental transformation in nuclear energy,” Peters said.

“We will see today’s light-water reactors, SMRs, and advanced non-light-water reactors operating side-by-side,” Peters said. “When looking at siting nuclear reactors, it may make sense to prioritize existing sites that have the infrastructure and workforce in place to support a new reactor and, moreover, a good deal of site characterization has already been performed.”

The advanced nuclear hearing also included testimony from Southern (NYSE:SO), TerraPower LLC and Oklo. Oklo is a Silicon Valley based company developing and building a very small reactor. We are working on a 2 MW compact fast reactor designed to bring distributed, clean, affordable, and reliable nuclear power to the market,” said Oklo CEO and Co-Founder Jacob DeWitte, PhD.

The Senate hearing was being held in the wake of Senate Bill S.2795, which addresses advanced nuclear technology.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.