Last month’s first-ever small modular reactor design approval could usher in a new era for nuclear power, provided the technology can live up to the hype. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) phase 1 review approval of a small nuclear reactor (SMR) design from Portland, Oregon-based NuScale Power means the technology now has a realistic chance of being up and running within a decade. In a press release, NuScale said its first operational products, for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), could be hooked up to the grid “by the mid-2020s,” while Bloomberg reported that the company was aiming for commercial operations in 2026. The reactor developer next has to get NRC design certification application approval and customer UAMPS needs a combined construction and operating license, NuScale’s director of communications, Mariam Nabizad, told GTM. But Josh Freed, founder and leader of the clean energy program at center-left think tank Third Way, said NuScale has already changed the global SMR picture. When it goes live, the UAMPS plant could be the definitive test of whether nuclear has a future in many Western economies. In Europe and the U.S. the industry is on the wane, mounting a rearguard PR campaign to claw back fans and betting heavily on SMRs to regain credibility. That means the UAMPS project, which is set to have a dozen 50-megawatt NuScale SMR modules, will have to buck recent nuclear new-build trends by coming in on time and on budget. And, critically, it will have to be competitive with other generation sources being built eight years from now. Nabizad said that the estimated overnight cost for the UAMPS project was $2.9 billion, and its target levelized cost of energy was $65 per megawatt-hour.
Greentech Media 14th May 2018 read more »