AP News reports on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approving the first design for a new kind of nuclear power plant that’s smaller and less expensive to build that traditional diesel plants – and should make it easier for American power companies to get away from fossil fuels:
It means that companies seeking to build and operate a nuclear power plant can pick the design for a 50-megawatt, advanced light-water small modular nuclear reactor by Oregon-based NuScale Power and apply to the NRC for a license.
Diane Hughes, NuScale’s vice president of marketing and communications, said the design certification is a historic step forward toward a clean energy future and makes the company’s VOYGR power plant a near-term deployable solution for customers. The first small modular reactor design application package included over 2 million pages of supporting materials, Hughes added.
However, David Schlissel at the Ohio-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis expressed concerns about the costs. Schlissel, who has studied the history of the nuclear power industry and the finances of the NuScale project, expects they will continue to go up, which could limit how many NuScale reactors are built. He said he thinks they’re not competitive in price with renewables and battery storage.
The U.S. Energy Department said it provided more than $600 million since 2014 to support the design, licensing and siting of NuScale’s VOYGR small modular reactor power plant and other domestic small reactor concepts. The department is working with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to demonstrate a six-module NuScale VOYGR plant at the Idaho National Laboratory. The first module is expected to be operational by 2029.
NuScale has signed 19 agreements in the U.S. and internationally to deploy its small reactor technology.