NuScale / UAMAPS Set Course for NRC COLA by 2023

  • NuScale/UAMPS To Submit COLA to NRC for Idaho Site in Three Years
  • NuScale in UK Partners with Wind Farm Developer for a Hybrid Power Plant at Wylfa
  • Romania / US Awards $1.2 Million Grant For SMR Development
  • EPRI Names Rita Baranwal as New VP of Nuclear, Chief Nuclear Officer
  • Rolls-Royce & UK Space Agency Launches Effort on Use of Nuclear Power for Space Exploration

NuScale & UAMPS Take Next Steps to License, Manufacture, and Build the First of 12 SMRs

nuscale logoNuScale Power has gotten the go ahead to prepare a Combined License Application (COLA) to be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The UAMPS COLA is expected to be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by the second quarter of 2023.

NRC review of the COLA is expected to be completed by the second half of 2025, with nuclear construction of the project beginning shortly thereafter. NuScale expects to have the first of 12 units in revenue service before the end of the decade. Eventually, plans are for the site to have 12 SMRs. The power rating of the site is a work in progress as NuScale started with an estimate of 50 MWE, but has since increased its design objective to 60 MWe and indicated it has plans for 77 MWe.

The NuScale reference power plant can house up to 12 NuScale Power Modules for a total facility output of 924 megawatts of electricity (MWe). NuScale also offers smaller power plant solutions in 4-module and 6-module sizes with outputs of 308 MWe (gross) and 462 MWe (gross), respectively. The multi-module NuScale plant design is scalable, allowing customers to incrementally increase facility output to match demand.

NuScale Power announced this week together with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) that it has executed agreements to facilitate the development of the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), which will deploy NuScale Power Modules at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

Fluor Corporation and NuScale (as a subcontractor to Fluor) are to develop higher maturity cost estimates and initial project planning work for the licensing, manufacturing and construction of the CFPP.

“The orders between NuScale and UAMPS mark the next major step in moving forward with the commercialization of NuScale’s groundbreaking small modular reactor (SMR) technology,” said John Hopkins, NuScale Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

The order to proceed with preparation of the COLA are the result of recently signed agreements to manage and de-risk the development of the Carbon Free Power Project. These include the Development Cost Reimbursement Agreement (DCRA) between UAMPS and NuScale, and the $1.355 billion multi-year Financial Assistance Award from the U.S. Department of Energy to CFPP LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UAMPS established to develop, own and operate the CFPP. The cost of producing a COLA for an SMR like NuScale’s is one of the things this stage of the project needs to figure out. Ggiven the smaller size of the plant, it will likely cost considerably less than one for a 1000 MW unit.

In addition, UAMPS and Fluor Corporation have signed a cost-reimbursable development agreement to provide estimating, development, design and engineering services to develop the site-specific cost estimates for deployment of the NuScale technology at the INL site.

Concurrently, UAMPS will continue to evaluate the size of the NuScale power plant as Fluor refines the engineering of alternatives to ensure that the plant is the best overall cost of energy and size to meet the CFPP participants’  needs.

“The orders executed today allow for important progress in the development of the Carbon Free Power Project, and we are excited to take this next step alongside our partners NuScale Power and Fluor Corporation” said Doug Hunter, UAMPS’ Chief Executive Officer and General Manager.

“We are confident that NuScale’s small modular reactor will deliver affordable, stable, carbon-free energy to participating members, complementing and enabling large amounts of renewable energy in the region.”

In 2020 several member utilities pulled out of UAMPS plans to build the Idaho plant citing concerns for cost overruns. As part of an effort to prevent further defections, NuScale has undertaken detailed studies of capital, operating, and decommissioning costs for its 12-module, 924 MWe plant design.

Results demonstrated that the total capitalized cost of the NuScale plant is approximately 38% of a reference 4-loop pressurized water reactor (PWR) of 1,147 MWe net output, (the power rating of a Westinghouse AP1000) representing a reduction of nearly $4 billion. Accounting for differences in power output, the capitalized construction cost per kW for the NuScale plant is 62% of the 4-loop PWR ($3,466/kW versus $5,587/kW).

NuScale’s SMR became the first and only design to ever receive approval from the NRC in August 2020. NuScale and UAMPS expect that the initial orders will address the final step in the regulatory process to proceed with plans to build a NuScale Power Plant as they plan for and develop the Combined License Application (COLA) for the CFPP.

NuScale in UK Partners with Wind Farm Developer for a Hybrid Power Plant at Wylfa

Shearwater Energy and NuScale sign memorandum of understanding to investigate project

Shearwater Energy Ltd., a UK-based hybrid energy company, is developing a wind and SMR (Small Modular Reactor) and hydrogen production hybrid energy project in North Wales. The project would provide 3 GWe of zero-carbon energy and is also expected to produce over 3 million kilograms of green hydrogen per year for use by the UK’s transport sector. The company said the project’s cost to build would be 40% less than a conventional nuclear plant.

hybrid nuclear wind conceptual diagram

Image source: The Economic Potential of Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems Producing Hydrogen; Mark Ruth, Dylan Cutler, Francisco Flores-Espino, and Greg Stark National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Technical Report, NREL/TP-6A50-66764 April 2017

Shearwater has submitted an outline proposal to the British Government and the governments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, all of whom stand to derive considerable economic benefits in connection with the proposed project.  So far it is not clear where the financing for the project will come from. No commercial investors have made public comments expressing interest in the project.

Shearwater said it could build the hybrid plant for “less than £8bn” and start generating carbon-neutral power by late 2027.

The BBC quoted Shearwater as saying it would take at least four years of detailed planning and design before the plant could be built, and it was currently at phase one of the process “in order to demonstrate both viability and speed of installation”.

Shearwater Energy’s director Simon Forster said his company started pulling together proposals after Japanese energy giant Hitachi pulled out of the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant project in September.

Although several firms have indicated to the UK government that they are interested in building full size nuclear reactors at the Wylfa and Oldbury sites, financing the $20 billion project remains elusive.

Shearwater has selected the leading U.S. SMR technology being developed by NuScale Power, LLC to provide the clean, base load and load-following energy for the proposed hybrid energy project. Shearwater has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NuScale Power to further collaboration in advancing the proposed project.

Under the MOU, Shearwater and NuScale will explore opportunities for the combined generation of nuclear power based on NuScale’s SMR technology, offshore wind energy and hydrogen production at sites in the UK, with a flagship opportunity being explored at Wylfa on Anglesey.

As international renewable energy portfolios grow, this collaboration highlights the increasing momentum and need for more flexible and reliable low-carbon energy generation. NuScale will also specifically support Shearwater as it continues to develop the project, including conducting project-specific engineering, planning, and licensing activities for their SMR technology.

NuScale’s assessment of the UK supply chain concluded that more than 75% of the content of a NuScale plant could be sourced within the UK. Both parties are committed to further exploring British companies’ capabilities to participate in maximizing the UK content of this project.

supply chain nuscale

When fully developed, an offshore SMR-wind plant at Wylfa could provide 3 GWe of reliable, zero-carbon electricity at a fraction of the cost of a conventional nuclear power station with surplus energy generation focused on the production of hydrogen to support the transport sector’s transition to low-carbon fuels. Power generation at Wylfa could begin as early as 2027 if the UK government will step up with financial backing.

Given the UK’s recently announced plans to rapidly expand offshore wind capacity by 2030 and invest in SMR development to meet net-zero carbon emissions goals by 2050, a Shearwater-NuScale wind-nuclear energy system could  provide reliable, load following power to overcome intermittency and grid stability issues.

Additionally, green hydrogen produced by a Shearwater-NuScale wind-nuclear energy system could support industry, transport, power and homes providing a further opportunity for decarbonization and affordable energy security.

Romania / US Awards $1.2 Million Grant For SMR Development

(Nucnet) The US Trade and Development Agency has awarded a $1.2M grant to Romania’s national nuclear energy company Societatea National Nuclearelectrica, to support the development of small modular reactor solutions in Romania.

USTDA said its technical assistance will support Romania’s efforts to include SMR technology in its national energy strategy. The assistance will identify a short list of SMR-suitable sites, assess SMR technology options and develop site-specific licensing roadmaps. Nuclearelectrica has chosen Illinois-based Sargent & Lundy to carry out the assistance.


Image source: Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (SMR report)

Nuclearelectrica chief executive officer Cosmin Ghita said that in addition to the current development of two new units at the Cernavoda nuclear power station, the company is also interested in assessing the development of SMRs as a long-term solution for development of the Romanian nuclear industry.

“We are interested in features like flexibility, modularity and higher efficiency that could provide advantages for both the energy system and businesses after 2035,” he said. “The grant awarded by USTDA will allow us to further explore siting and technology compatibility with the proper technical assistance and have this assessment process initiated in due time for further decision-making.”

In March 2019, NuScale Power and Nuclearelectrica signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the exchange of business and technical information about NuScale’s nuclear technology, with the goal of evaluating the development, licensing and construction of a NuScale SMR in Romania.

In October 2020, Romania and the US signed a draft cooperation agreement for the refurbishment of one nuclear power reactor and the construction of two more at the Cernavoda. In July last year, Romania launched a tender for a new feasibility study to complete units 3 and 4.

Nuclearelectrica said the draft agreement included plans for the refurbishment of Unit 1, a 650-MW Candu 6 unit which began commercial operation in December 1996. The US DOE, meanwhile, confirmed that the agreement includes plans for two more units at the Cernavoda site.

EPRI Names Rita Baranwal as New VP of Nuclear,
Chief Nuclear Officer

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) announced Dr. Rita Baranwal as its new Vice President of Nuclear Energy and Chief Nuclear Officer.

Baranwal succeeds Neil Wilmshurst, who was promoted to Senior Vice President of Energy System Resources in November.

RITA_BARANWAL_PORTRAIT_DSF1980Baranwal most recently served as the U.S. Energy Department’s Assistant Secretary for its Office of Nuclear Energy, where she managed DOE’s portfolio of nuclear research for existing and advanced reactors and new designs.

Prior to that role, Baranwal directed the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative at Idaho National Laboratory. Under her leadership, GAIN positively impacted over 120 companies with state-of-the-art R&D expertise, capabilities, and infrastructure that supported faster, cost-effective development, demonstration, and ultimate deployment of innovative nuclear energy technologies.

Before GAIN, Baranwal led the creation and development of industry-changing technologies and managed characterization and hot cell laboratories as the director of technology development and application at Westinghouse. She is also a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society.

“EPRI’s nuclear sector is a world-class resource for optimizing plant performance, sharing best practices, and applying innovative technology solutions for existing and emerging plants,” said EPRI President and CEO Arshad Mansoor. “We are thrilled to welcome a leader of Rita’s caliber as we collaborate with global nuclear operators to create a cleaner energy future.”

“Rita has a great strategic and global perspective, and is widely respected for her many achievements,” said Wilmshurst. “I am confident her broad expertise and knowledge of the industry are going to inspire and further enable the EPRI nuclear research team’s work and the value they provide to our members and society.”

At EPRI, Baranwal will lead a team of more than 200 researchers, scientists, engineers and technical staff who provide objective, science-based nuclear R&D to more than 80 percent of the world’s commercial nuclear fleet.

“I look forward to working with EPRI’s incredibly talented team to find answers to pressing nuclear energy challenges during the clean energy transition,” said Baranwal. “Together we can accelerate new nuclear technology development, enable more flexible operation, and deliver value beyond electricity generation in a low-carbon energy future.”

Baranwal will be based in Charlotte, NC.

Rolls-Royce & UK Space Agency Launches Effort on Use of Nuclear Power for Space Exploration

Rolls-Royce has signed an contract with the UK Space Agency for a study into future nuclear power options for space exploration. This first contract between both organizations represents an opportunity to define and shape the nuclear power solutions required in space in the decades to come.

Universe Today reports that the purpose of this program was to develop a nuclear-thermal rocket (NTP) that could allow for rapid transport to the Moon, Mars, and other locations in deep space. In an NTP rocket, uranium or deuterium reactions are used to heat liquid hydrogen inside a reactor, causing it to ionize into a hot plasma that is then directed through nozzles to create thrust.

Rolls Royce said in a statement that nuclear propulsion, which would involve channeling the energy released in splitting the atom to accelerate propellants, like hydrogen, at huge speeds, has the potential to revolutionize space travel.

According to Universe Today by some estimates, this kind of engine could be twice as efficient as the chemical engines that power rockets today. Spacecraft powered by this kind of engine could, conceivably, make it to Mars in just 3 to 4 months – roughly half the time of the fastest possible trip in a spacecraft using the current chemical propulsion.

rolls royve nuclear 1

According to a technical report drafted by Doctor Michael G. Houts (the NTP principal investigator at NASA Marshall), an NTP rocket could generate 200 kWt of power using a single kilogram of uranium for a period of 13 years – which works out to a fuel efficiency rating of about 45 grams per 1000 MW-hr (twice that of chemical rockets). At that rate, a nuclear thermal rocket could make the trip to Mars in half the time (100 days!)

It would not just mean a time saving. It would also radically reduce the dose of radiation taken on by astronauts that would be making future trips to Mars or other planets. The size of the dose increases the longer you spend in deep space, away from the bubble of protection given by the Earth’s magnetosphere.

The appeal of a small nuclear power generator for propulsion also comes from the fact that power in space becomes increasingly precious with distance from the Sun. In the outer Solar System, sunlight gets too dim for solar panels

Universe Today noted that in recent years, research into nuclear propulsion has once again resumed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. With the UK Space Agency on board now as well, it’s likely that the ESA will be investigating nuclear propulsion for future missions as well. Roscosmos is also pursuing NEP technology with its Transport and Energy Module (TEM) program, with plans to make the first reactor tests in the early 2020s and the first orbital flight test by 2030.

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