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Energy Northwest is partner on advanced nuclear projects that receive DOE awards

Washington State joint action agency Energy Northwest is a utility partner on advanced nuclear energy projects that recently received awards from the U.S. Department of Energy.

On Oct. 13, the DOE announced that it was awarding TerraPower LLC and X-energy $80 million each in initial funding to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years.

The DOE said that 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 industry partners providing matching funds.

According to the DOE, TerraPower will demonstrate the Natrium reactor, a sodium‐cooled fast reactor that leverages of 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, the DOE said in a news release.

The x-energy project calls for the delivery of a commercial four-unit nuclear power plant based on the company’s 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, according to the DOE.

Energy Northwest said that under its partnership agreement with TerraPower-GE Hitachi, it will provide licensing and operating experience to the TerraPower-GE Hitachi team to facilitate development of the concept, including the potential for future operation and maintenance of a commercial plant.

Under the partnership agreement with x-energy, Energy Northwest will assist with the licensing of the design.

If the design is determined to be a viable option for development in Washington, Energy Northwest expects to own and operate the plant, with the output provided to its public power partners to meet future retail load.

Small modular reactor project

NuScale Power is working with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) on the nation’s first commercial small modular reactor project. Energy Northwest has the option to operate the SMR plant.

The DOE recently approved a multi-year cost-share award of $1.355 billion to a new special purpose entity wholly owned by UAMPS for the development and construction of the Carbon Free Power Project, which will be the first NuScale small modular nuclear reactor project in the U.S.