DOE Kicks Off Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program
- May 15, 2020 10:31 am GMT
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Cost sharing with industry is a key element of the $230M program
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week the launch of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) within the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). ARDP is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the United States. (Fact Sheet)
For the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, Congress appropriated $230 million to start a new demonstration program for advanced reactors. Through cost-shared partnerships with industry, ARDP will provide $160 million for initial funding that will eventually lead to full funding to build two reactors that can be operational within the next five to seven years. (Fact Sheet) The actual cost of building the reactors is yet to be determined and will be higher than commercial units due to the first of a kind nature of the technology for each unit as a demonstration project.
Top-Level Support for the Program
The funding announcement got a high level send off with a statement from the top.
“The next generation of nuclear energy is critical to our Nation’s energy security and environmental stewardship,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.
“We must pursue technological innovation and advanced nuclear RD&D investments to strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies, ensuring a healthy and growing U.S. nuclear energy sector.”
“Advanced nuclear energy systems hold enormous potential to lower emissions, create new jobs, and build a strong economy,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy.
“The U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory system was created to solve national challenges,” said INL Lab Director Mark Peters.
“Today’s announcement by U.S. DOE will accelerate innovation in advanced nuclear energy systems by leveraging the tremendous capabilities and expertise at INL and our partner national laboratories.”
Role of the National Reactor Innovation Center
In addition to the two reactors, ARDP will leverage the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) (Fact Sheet) to efficiently test and assess ARD technologies by engaging the world-renowned capabilities of the national laboratory system to move these reactors from blueprints to reality.
Funding Opportunity Announcement
The primary implementing tool for ARDP is the ARD Funding Opportunity Announcement, issued 5/14/20, which provides applicants three separate technology development and demonstration pathways. One size does not fit all.
ARDP will provide $160 million in initial funding. Applicants can receive support through three different development and demonstration pathways.
- Advanced reactor demonstrations, which are expected to result in a fully functional advanced nuclear reactor within seven years of the award.
- Risk reduction for future demonstrations, which will support up to five additional teams resolving technical, operational, and regulatory challenges to prepare for future demonstration opportunities.
- Advanced reactor concepts 2020 (ARC 20), which will support innovative and diverse designs with potential to commercialize in the mid-2030s.
Assistant secretary for the office of nuclear energy Rita Baranwal said during a webinar on 5/14/20 the DOE has been “moving very quickly” to execute the new program.
Applications for funding opened on 5/14/20 for 90 days (closes 8/12/20) and there will be a “virtual industry day” in June for applicants to get further details. Funding awards will be made at end of calendar year.
More Information from NRIC
The National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) enables advanced reactor demonstration and deployment by preparing infrastructure and providing access to National Laboratory sites, facilities, materials, and expertise.
NRIC has prepared a standard memorandum of understanding (MOU) for use with innovators seeking to work with NRIC. For a copy of the MOU or for more information on how to work with NRIC, please email email@example.com
ARPA-E Awards $27M to Nine Firms
The US Department of Energy announced $27 million in funding for nine projects as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) program.( Complete list of projects – PDF file)
GEMINA’s goal is to reduce fixed operations and maintenance (O&M) costs from ~13 $/MWh in the current fleet to ~2 $/MWh in the advanced fleet. These projects will work to develop digital twin technology to reduce O&M costs in the next generation of nuclear power plants.
GEMINA teams will develop digital twins and associated technologies for advanced nuclear reactors to strategically design O&M frameworks for the next generation of nuclear power plants. These teams are designing tools to introduce greater flexibility in reactor systems, increase autonomy in operations, and speed up design iteration, with a goal of reducing costs at advanced reactor power plants.
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