Puerto Rican Engineers and US Executives Explore Opportunities for Small Modular Reactors to Reinvent Puerto Rico’s Energy Infrastructure
The Nuclear Alternative Project, a volunteer-based organization composed of University of Puerto Rico alumni, in partnership with the United Nuclear Industry Alliance (UNIA), based in Mayaguex, PR, is bringing together a high powered panel of nuclear vendors for a first-ever meeting on October 30 with local leadership and discuss the economic feasibility of small modular reactors (SMRs) and their potential to address Puerto Rico’s energy needs.
The United Industry Alliance is an alliance of supply chain vendors providing systems, components, and services to the nuclear industry. The Nuclear Alternatives Project seeks to bring the advances in nuclear technology to communities via community engagement strategies.
In September 2017 a major hurricane devastated Puerto Rico and its electrical grid. Rebuilding it to provide reliable power is a major challenge to the island which is part of the U.S. Advocates for SMRs believe that this technology can and should be a part of the rebuilding program.
Advocates for SMRs Think They Would Work in Puerto Rico
Small modular nuclear reactor technologies are smaller-scale—between 50 MW and 300 MW—and described by their proponents as safer than conventional reactors. However, they currently aren’t expected to be on the U.S. market until at least the mid-2020s, with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewing NuScale Power LLC’s application for its technology.
In addition to NuScale’s light water technology design there are dozens of nuclear energy startups seeking success with advanced designs.
For many years, the option of nuclear power has been proposed for Puerto Rico to diversify the Island’s energy sources and reduce costs of electricity, says Eddie M. Guerra, Senior Engineer with Arup.
“However, this time is different: Advances in SMRs make it ideal for island-type territories and there are hundreds of Puerto Rican engineers with nuclear expertise who can’t wait to contribute to their hometown’s revitalization”
“There are so many University of Puerto Rico graduates working in nuclear energy, and I’m one of them, responsible for nuclear safety at our plant.” says Angel Reyes, Senior Program Manager for Exelon Nuclear Generation at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.
“This initiative is so exciting for many like me with a nuclear background who are looking to contribute to Puerto Rico’s future!”
“In my more than 45 years in the nuclear industry I haven’t seen such excitement from a group of young engineers passionate to transform their communities” Says Donald Hoffman, President and CEO of United Nuclear Industry Alliance and Excel Services.
He added, “This is why the U.S. nuclear industry is supporting this group of engineers 100 percent to go to Puerto Rico and meet with local leadership to discuss the potential of small modular reactors for the Island.”
Background on Ideas for SMRs for Puerto Rico
DOE Secretary Discusses SMRs for the Island’s Grid
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry discussed the idea of SMRs as an alternative to reinvent Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure.
In September 2017 DOE Secretary Rick Perry spoke about the potential of deploying national lab innovations in Puerto Rico during a panel discussion at a Sept. 26 National Clean Energy Week event in Washington, D.C.
“Wouldn’t it make abundant good sense if we had small modular reactors that literally you could put in the back of C-17 [military cargo] aircraft, transport it to an area like Puerto Rico, and push it out the back end, crank it up and plug it in?” he asked.
“That’s the type of innovation that’s going on at our national labs. Hopefully, we can expedite that,” he said.
Commerce Dept Outlines Proposal for SMRs
in Puerto Rico in Position Paper
In March 2018 the U.S. Department of Commerce Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee (CINTAC) published a position paper outlining the economic and export potential of SMRs for Puerto Rico. Many leading voices sees nuclear energy as a promising way to provide Puerto Rico with clean, reliable power.
In its cover letter the group wrote,
“The aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria has launched a movement to transform the island’s energy infrastructure into a more reliable, environmentally friendly and sustainable one.”
“Today’s SMR designs present the technological advances specially tailored for energy challenges of island-type territories like Puerto Rico. For instance, some SMR designs are built underground which could also potentially increase the island’s energy security in future hurricane situations.”
“For decades Puerto Rico’s stakeholders have looked for options to reduce the island’s high cost of electricity. SMRs could provide an initial Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) which could compete with the island’s high cost of electricity generated by imported diesel fuels.”
Conference Speakers and Registration Details
A short list of participants in the October 30th meeting include key U.S. nuclear industry leaders,
- Jeffrey Harper, VP, X-Energy
- Jose Reyes, CTO, NuScale
- Abdul Dullo, Director, Plant Technology, Westinghouse,
- David Sledzik, SVP, Nuclear, Hitachi
Event Date: 10/30/18
To attend go to the Registration Link
Universidad de Puerto Rico –
Mayagüez PR-108, Mayagüez, 00682, Puerto Rico (map)
The panel discussion can be accessed through a live stream at: https://www.uprm.edu/inci/
The link will be up starting at 10:30 AM on Oct 30th. (Atlantic Standard Time)
Also, in the event the university home page loads first in Spanish, at the bottom of the page is an option to reload the page in English. The panel discussions will be conducted in English.
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