Industry group makes recommendations to support small modular reactors

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance on Oct. 11 released recommendations to support the development and commercialization of small modular reactors (SMRs) by U.S. companies. The NIA released a report that offers guidance for state and federal governments to speed up the development of both light water and non-light water SMR designs.

The NIA’s SMR recommendations call for:

  • Congress and the Trump administration to expand support for new reactor design and licensing to include non-light water designs;
  • Congress to amend the nuclear energy tax credit to help first-of-a-kind SMR projects;
  • The secretary of energy to procure power for federal facilities through power purchase agreements with the SMR projects under development by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and the Tennessee Valley Authority; and
  • State governments to expand existing or proposed renewable portfolio standards into clean energy standards that could include SMRs.

“By supporting new SMR technology deployment, the United States can help secure its position as an international leader on nuclear technology,” said Ashley Finan, NIA policy director.

“With aging U.S. coal and nuclear plants slated for retirement, and the urgency of combating climate change, SMRs are well-suited to help provide the next generation of much-needed clean, dispatchable energy, alongside renewable energy and other low-carbon energy sources,” the NIA said in an Oct. 11 article posted on its website.

“Our findings indicate that we are at an important juncture where targeted incentives for SMRs can make a big difference for the country’s future clean energy options,” said Matt Bowen, the report’s author.

The report is available from the NIA website.

NRC reviewing NuScale SMR design

In March 2017, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it would begin a full certification review of NuScale Power LLC’s application to certify the company’s small modular reactor design for use in the United States.

The company submitted its application in January for the design, in which the reactor building holds 12 co-located pressurized-water reactor modules for a total output of 600 MWe.

NuScale is the first company to submit a small modular reactor design for certification, the NRC said.

SMR designs seek to meet NRC safety requirements through smaller reactor cores and passive safety features.

UAMPS, TVA take steps toward SMRs

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS, in 2016 took a step forward in the development of its Carbon Free Power Project by identifying a preferred site within the boundary of the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory site near Idaho Falls, Idaho. The site selection process was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Energy.

The Utah public power agency, which provides electricity at wholesale to more than 40 community-owned electric utilities in the Intermountain West, previously said that it was studying the feasibility of deploying up to 12 small modular reactors at the Idaho site. One of its partners on the project is NuScale Power.

In May 2016, the Tennessee Valley Authority said that it had submitted an early site permit application to the NRC to assess the potential for construction and operation of SMR units at its Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.