US Deparement of Energy agrees to fund NuScale SMR to commercialization

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week that it will invest $217 million over five years in the development and commercialization of the NuScale Small Modular Reactor (SMR).  The DOE expects their investment to be matched by private sector investment in the project.  NuScale intends to use the funds to test their reactor and to complete the process of certification through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission with hopes of having the first NuScale reactor online by 2023.

NuScale’s 45MW pressurized water reactor is a unique design making use of an unconventional fuel assembly which is passively cooled and more inherently safe than existing reactors.  In the event of an overheating, the reactor is designed to cool without any human input, without any additional water, and without electricity.  The NuScale SMR will be mass produced in a factory and shipped by truck, rail, or barge in sets of up to twelve for power stations between 45MW and 540MW.

Here, the Chief Commercial Officer of NuScale Power explains some of the benefits of a small modular reactor generally and the NuScale reactor specifically.

If NuScale is able to keep to its schedule for commercialization, it could play a major role in achieving US President Barack Obama’s recently stated goal of reducing the emissions of all US power plants 30% by 2013.


U.S. Department of Energy continues support for small modular nuclear reactors

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has recently shown their continued support for the development and eventual deployment of small modular nuclear reactor technology, or SMR for short.  An agreement with Babcock & Wilcox will see $150 million in funding in support of their mPower technology. [1]

SMRs have many apparent benefits over existing nuclear reactors.  The DOE’s Nuclear Energy Department say that SMRs “offer the advantage of lower initial capital investment, scalability, and siting flexibility at locations unable to accommodate more traditional larger reactors.  They also have the potential for enhanced safety and security.” [2]  This is due to intervals of four years or more between refueling.  Furthermore, Babcock & Wilcox claim that “the overnight cost for an mPower reactor is about $5,000/kW.” [1]

The estimated cost has more than doubled since 2004.  The hard numbers are still a long way away with the University of Chicago Energy Policy Institute reporting that only 20% of the detailed engineering analysis has been completed.[3]


1. U.S. Sustains Support For Small Modular Nuclear Reactors –

2. Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – US Office of Nuclear Energy

3. Small Modular Reactors – Key to Future Nuclear Power Generation in the U.S. – Energy Policy Institute at Chicago