Monday, April 30, 2018

NuScale plan for small modular reactor in Idaho clears regulatory hurdle

NuScale began life as a spinoff company based on research conducted by Oregon State University professor Jose Reyes. (NuScale Power photo)
NuScale Power's plans for a small modular reactor west of Idaho Falls has cleared another regulatory hurdle, as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has completed the first and most intensive phase of review for the company’s design certification application.

This is the first and only SMR application to ever undergo NRC review. The NRC is expected to certify NuScale’s design, and the company’s first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems -- of which Idaho Falls Power is a member -- is planning a 12-module SMR plant to be in operation by the mid-2020s.

“We are thankful for the rigorous review of our revolutionary nuclear design and greatly appreciate the government recognizing the importance of furthering NuScale’s advancement,” said the company's power chairman and chief executive officer, John Hopkins. “Our technology means significant economic and job benefits for the country and it’s positioned to revitalize the domestic nuclear industry by virtue of NuScale’s affordable, flexible, and safe solution to providing zero-carbon energy.”

During the 115,000 hours the NRC spent reviewing the application, it issued far fewer requests for additional information compared to other DCAs, validating in NuScale's view the simplicity of the design and quality of the application.

On a separate but related front, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced Friday it was awarding NuScale $40 million in cost-sharing financial assistance. The federal award supports early-stage research and development and the industry’s embrace of these technologies, with the stated goal of promoting U.S. energy independence, electricity grid resiliency, national security, and clean baseload power.

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., NuScale, majority-owned by Fluor Corp., has already received more than $200 million in federal support. The $40 million award announced Friday, the lion's share of $60 million doled out under the DOE’s new "U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology" program, comes with an equivalent cost share.

In a Portland Business Journal story, NuScale Director of Communications Mariam Nabizad said the company has "commitments from private investors to cover the NuScale $40 million portion of the DOE award." She added that the company "looks to continue to seek additional investment beyond our DOE cost share award to provide the funding to complete our commercialization program."

In a Bloomberg story earlier this month, "First Small-Scale Nuclear Reactor May Be Just Eight Years Away," CFO Jay Surina said NuScale was looking for "deep-pocketed" individuals who could provide it up to $120 million in equity investment.


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