Nuclear Regulatory Commission Issues Final Rule Certifying NuScale Power’s Small Modular Reactor

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently issued a final rule to certify NuScale Power’s small modular reactor.

The company’s power module becomes the first SMR design certified by the NRC and just the seventh reactor design cleared for use in the United States.

The rule, which was published in the Federal Register, takes effects February 21, 2023.

The published final rule making allows utilities to reference NuScale’s SMR design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor.

NuScale’s power plant can house up to 12 factory-built power modules that are about a third of the size of a large-scale reactor. Each power module leverages natural processes, such as convection and gravity, to passively cool the reactor without additional water, power, or even operator action.

The NRC accepted NuScale’s SMR design certification application back in March 2018 and issued its final technical review in August 2020. The NRC voted to certify the design on July 29, 2022 -- making it the first SMR approved by the NRC for use in the United States.

Among the public power entities that have been pursing SMRs is Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. The UAMPS Carbon Free Power Project is a nuclear plant to be located at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls Idaho. It will comprise of up to six NuScale Power Modules.

TVA Enters Agreement With GE Hitachi Related To Potential Deployment Of Small Modular Reactor

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Valley Authority in 2022 entered a two-party agreement with GE Hitachi to support TVA's planning and preliminary licensing for a potential deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at the Clinch River Nuclear site and provide additional information needed as TVA continues to analyze the viability of SMRs, subject to future TVA board approval.

This follows an April 2022 collaboration agreement with Ontario Power Generation to support the development of small modular reactors as an effective long-term source of 24/7 carbon-free energy in both Canada and the U.S.

Nebraska Public Power District Launches Siting Study for Small Modular Reactors

Nebraska Public Power District is beginning the process of studying sites that could have the potential to host advanced small modular nuclear reactors, it said on Jan. 13.

The first phase of the siting study involves doing a Nebraska-wide assessment to determine the 15 best locations for siting small modular reactors based on geographic data and preliminary licensing criteria. Some of the key criteria being considered will be access to water and transmission lines among many others. This phase is estimated to be completed in spring of 2023.

The second phase of the study will perform a more in-depth evaluation and will focus on reducing the number of sites from 15 to four. This effort includes detailed field environmental and constructability evaluations based on criteria used by the NRC when licensing nuclear plants. This phase of the study is estimated to take approximately a year to complete.