DOE looking to step up commercialization of SMRs

The Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary for Nuclear Reactor Technologies, John E. Kelly, says that the Department of Energy (DOE) is making good progress in its push toward commercialization of advanced reactor technology.

Kelly is scheduled to brief the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) June 20 on DOE efforts to speed deployment of small modular reactors (SMRs) and other advanced nuclear technology. The slide presentation for the Kelly briefing has been posted on an NRC website.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said that nuclear energy must play a role in the de-carbonization of the energy sector. Nuclear energy already produces more energy than hydro, solar, wind and geothermal power combined.

That’s a key reason that DOE is working with the nuclear power industry to commercialize both SMRs and advanced light water reactors, according to the Kelly presentation.

In Fiscal Year 2012, DOE started a six-year, $452m program to accelerate deployment of SMRs by supporting certification and licensing for U.S. based SMR projects through cost-shared cooperative agreements with industry partners.

Ongoing efforts include design certification for a NuScale Power SMR as well as site permitting and licensing preparation for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Utah Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS).

DOE’s assistance through the program can touch upon everything from technical analysis to address licensing concerns to economic and market data.

NuScale is now working on its design certification application for submission to federal regulators in December. As for TVA it submitted its early site permit application to NRC on May 12. TVA should start its technology selection work in the fall of 2016.

The UAMPS decision to proceed with a NuScale-designed SMR somewhere on the Idaho National Laboratory campus could come in August, according to the DOE slides.

DOE has also developed a “Vision and Strategy for the Development and Deployment of Advanced Reactors.”

DOE is also working on technology to help existing light water reactor sustain their operation for beyond a 60-year lifespan.

“Coordination with NRC and EPRI [the Electric Power Research Institute] has and will continue to be needed for success,” according to Kelly’s materials.

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.