Friday, December 21, 2018

DOE, UAMPS and Battelle Energy Alliance announce memorandum of understanding on small modular reactor project

Multiple NuScale small modular reactors could make up a plant (Image: NuScale)
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy has issued a memorandum of understanding between itself, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) concerning a small modular reactor project planned for Idaho National Laboratory.

Announced Friday, the memorandum highlights DOE-NE's intent to use two of the modules in UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), envisioned for construction at INL in the mid-2020s.

The plan announced in the MOU is for one of the 60-megawatt modules to be designated as strictly for research activities (referred to as the Joint Use Modular Plant or JUMP program). The research is expected to focus on integrated energy systems that support the production of both electricity and non-electric energy products such as process heat.

“This agreement will allow DOE to meet its needs in the form of resilient power to a national security mission-based lab while drawing from our nation’s newest class of advanced reactors,” said Ed McGinnis, DOE-NE principal deputy assistant secretary. “The JUMP program provides a unique opportunity for the nation’s leading nuclear laboratory to conduct nuclear energy research and contribute to the successful commercialization of the nation’s first SMR.”

The other module may be used in a power purchase agreement with Idaho Power to provide electricity to INL's operations west of Idaho Falls. INL forecasts needing up to 70 megawatts of electricity between 2025 and 2030. Idaho Power currently supplies electricity to the site through its Scoville substation.

Design plans for the project are being reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which in January ruled that the novel safety design approach eliminates the need for class 1E power. Currently, all nuclear plants in the U.S. are required to have class 1E power supplies to ensure safety. In its safety evaluation report, NRC approved NuScale Power’s “Safety Classification of Passive Nuclear Power Plant Electrical Systems” Licensing Topical Report, in which the company detailed how its design can be safe without reliance on safety-related electrical power.

For more information, visit FAQ: What is the Carbon Free Power Project?.