DOE Awards $80M each to TerraPower, X-Energy for ARDP

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $160 million in
First Awards Under Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

nricThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today (10/13/20)) announced it has selected two U.S.-based teams to receive $160 million in initial funding under the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). ARDP, announced in May, is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.

DOE is awarding TerraPower LLC (Bellevue, WA) and X-energy (Rockville, MD) $80 million each in initial funding to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years.

The awards are cost-shared partnerships with industry that will deliver two first-of-a-kind advanced reactors to be licensed for commercial operations. The Department will invest a total of $3.2 billion over seven years, subject to the availability of future appropriations, with our industry partners providing matching funds.

“The awards are the first step of a new program that will strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.

“These partnerships will help maximize DOE’s investment in advanced reactors, which play a vital role in our clean energy strategy.”

Secretary Brouillette said DOE would spend $3.2B over the next seven years on ARDP subject to appropriations.  This award is part of phase 1 of the program. (See below for information on Phases 2 & 3)

Update 10/14/20Additional details on the awards by DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal

Specifically, TerraPower will demonstrate the Natrium reactor, a sodium‐cooled fast reactor that leverages decades of development and design undertaken by TerraPower and its partner, GE‐Hitachi.

The high-operating temperature of the Natrium reactor, coupled with thermal energy storage, will allow the plant to provide flexible electricity output that complements variable renewable generation such as wind a solar. In addition, this project will establish a new metal fuel fabrication facility that is scaled to meet the needs of this demonstration program.

X-energy will deliver a commercial four-unit nuclear power plant based on its Xe-100 reactor design. The Xe-100 is a high temperature gas-cooled reactor that is ideally suited to provide flexible electricity output as well as process heat for a wide range of industrial heat applications, such as desalination and hydrogen production. The project will also deliver a commercial scale TRi-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO) fuel fabrication facility, leveraging DOE’s substantial investment in development of this highly robust fuel form.

Both projects incorporate a range of design features that will not only enhance safety, but make them affordable to construct and operate, paving the way for the United States to deploy highly competitive advanced reactors domestically and globally.

“DOE and U.S. industry are extremely well-equipped to develop and demonstrate nuclear reactors with the requisite sense of urgency, which is important not only to our economy, but to our environment, because nuclear energy is clean energy,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

Congress appropriated $160 million for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget as initial funding for these demonstration projects. Funding beyond the near-term is contingent on additional future appropriations, evaluations of satisfactory progress and DOE approval of continuation applications.

ARDP Has Three Phases – this is Phase 1

Applicants tot he ARDP can receive support through three different development and demonstration pathways:

  • Advanced reactor demonstrations, which are expected to result in a fully functional advanced nuclear reactor within 7 years of the award.
  • Risk reduction for future demonstrations, which will support up to five additional teams resolving technical, operational, and regulatory challenges to prepare for future demonstration opportunities.
  • Advanced reactor concepts 2020 (ARC 20), which will support innovative and diverse designs with potential to commercialize in the mid-2030s.

ADRP will leverage the National Reactor Innovation Center to efficiently test and assess ARD technologies by engaging the world-renowned capabilities of the national laboratory system to move these reactors from blueprints to reality. (Overview of NRIC – PDF file)

In addition, the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriation also provided initial year funding of $30 million for two to five Risk Reduction for Future Demonstrations projects and $20 million initial year funding for at least two Advanced Reactor Concepts-20 (ARC-20) projects. Awards for these projects are expected to be announced in December 2020.

ANS Statement on DOE Advanced Reactor Demonstration Funding Awards

The American Nuclear Society congratulates TerraPower and X-energy for being chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to participate in the cost-sharing Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP).

“The successful demonstration of TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Natrium and X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor designs through the cost-sharing ARDP partnership, will help kickoff a new chapter in U.S. nuclear technology advancement,” said Craig Piercy, CEO and Executive Director of ANS.

“America’s nuclear professionals are ready to design, build and operate these advanced nuclear technologies,” Piercy said. “The deployment of American-designed advanced reactors around the world means job growth and new career opportunities for our nuclear professionals but also progress in halting climate change.”

“The ARDP is a great start but we can’t rest on our laurels,” continued Piercy. “We need continued robust federal research and development funding for nuclear innovation and implementing climate policies that are performance-based and technology-neutral, such as carbon pricing.”

According to Third Way analysis, the global market for nuclear reactors is expected to average at least $75 billion annually – not including fuel and maintenance contracts.

“Commercialization of U.S. advanced nuclear technologies could create tens of thousands of new jobs in nuclear engineering, manufacturing and construction,” said Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, President of ANS.

“Along with reestablishing U.S. competitiveness in nuclear exports, advanced reactors will also help improve living standards by supplying clean energy security to developing economies,” Dunzik-Gougar said.

NEI Applauds DOE Funding Commitment

Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute said, ““Today’s announcement signifies a pivotal development for the United States. The ARDP builds on the momentum already seen through the dozens of companies investing in the next generation of nuclear technologies.”

“Rapid progress on the pathway towards deployment is more critical than ever to address our climate challenges and secure a carbon-free future across the world. The advanced reactors designs selected by DOE will also be able to support non-electricity applications, opening the door for nuclear to play new roles in our nation’s efforts to decarbonize.”

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