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Small modular nuclear reactor to be employed at DOE Savannah River Site

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March 5, 2012
Source: U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Energy Department and its Savannah River Site (SRS) announced three public-private partnerships to develop deployment plans for small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technologies at SRS facilities, near Aiken, South Carolina. As part of the Energy Department’s commitment to advancing the next generation of nuclear reactor technologies and breaking down the technical and economic barriers to deployment, these Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) will help leverage Savannah River’s land assets, energy facilities and nuclear expertise to support potential private sector development, testing and licensing of prototype SMR technologies.

The Energy Department, Savannah River Site and Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) have entered into three separate agreements with Hyperion Power Generation Inc.; SMR, LLC, a subsidiary of Holtec International; and NuScale Power, LLC. The agreements will help these private companies obtain information on potential SMR reactor siting at Savannah River and provide a framework for developing land use and site services agreements to further these efforts.

“The Obama Administration continues to believe that low-carbon nuclear energy has an important role to play in America’s energy future,” said Secretary Chu. “We are committed to restarting the nation’s nuclear industry and advancing the next generation of these technologies, helping to create new jobs and export opportunities for American workers and businesses.”

The Energy Department has taken a number of steps to help jumpstart America’s nuclear industry and ensure that nuclear power continues to play an important role in the U.S. energy mix. As part of these efforts, the Department has worked to advance small modular reactors, which provide an important opportunity for America’s manufacturing sector to make and sell cutting-edge technology. Small modular reactors have the added advantage of passive safety systems, compact and scalable design and lower capital costs.

“We have a unique combination of nuclear knowledge and laboratory expertise, infrastructure, location and much more to make the Site a natural fit for advancing the small modular reactor technology,” said Dr. Dave Moody, DOE-SR Manager. “We are about reinvigorating SRS assets to impact national needs and influence new missions for the future of the Savannah River Site.”

By strengthening information sharing and access to site facilities and technical expertise, these MOAs will help break down engineering and testing barriers to advanced nuclear reactor research and development while providing these nuclear companies with the resources to support effective deployment plans.

Today’s announcement builds on the Energy Department’s work to develop nuclear power as a vital part of America’s all-of-the-above energy strategy:

• The Energy Department announced $10 million in new research funds earlier this month to solve common challenges across the nuclear industry and improve reactor safety, performance and cost competitiveness.

• In 2010, the Department signed a conditional commitment for $8 billion in loan guarantees to support the Vogtle project, where the Southern Company and Georgia Power are building two new nuclear reactors, helping to create new jobs and export opportunities for American workers and businesses.

• The Energy Department has also supported the Vogtle project and the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors by providing more than $200 million through a cost-share agreement to support the licensing reviews for Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design certification. The Vogtle license is the first for new nuclear power plant construction in more than three decades.

• Promoting a sustainable nuclear industry in the U.S. also requires cultivating the next generation of scientists and engineers. Over the past three years, the Department has invested $170 million in research grants at more than 70 universities, supporting R&D into a full spectrum of technologies, from advanced reactor concepts to enhanced safety design.

The Memorandums of Agreement announced today do not constitute a federal funding commitment. The Energy Department envisions private sector funding will be used to develop these technologies and support deployment plans. The agreements, and the officials and offices involved with these activities, are separate and distinct from the Energy Department’s Funding Opportunity Announcement for small modular reactor cost-share projects announced earlier this year.

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