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NuScale Launches Effort to Deploy Floating SMRs

Dan Yurman's picture
Editor & Publisher NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy

Publisher of NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy online since 2007.  Consultant and project manager for technology innovation processes and new product / program development for commercial...

  • Member since 2018
  • 1,418 items added with 958,502 views
  • NuScale Teams with Canadian Firm to Deploy its SMRs via Floating Platforms
  • Danish Firm Plans Floating SMR for Asian Customers
  • South Korea Firms to Manufacture Floating Nuclear Power Plants
  • South Korea / KHNP To Invest $350 Million In SMR Design and Licensing
  • Saskatchewan Indigenous Companies to Explore SMRs

NuScale Teams with Canadian Firm to Deploy its SMRs via Floating Platforms

nuscale logoSMR developer NuScale Power and Prodigy Clean Energy have agreed to work together to advance their technologies as a baseload clean energy solution for coastal locations and island nations.

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This week NuScale and Prodigy sign memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support business development for a marine-deployed nuclear generating station powered by the NuScale small modular reactor (SMR). This is the second MOU between the two firms.

Prodigy Clean Energy is a Canadian company that designs and develops marine nuclear plants for safe, affordable and sustainable energy generation. It specializes in integrating commercial SMRs into marine power plant systems for coastal power generation.

Prodigy’s SMR Marine Power Station would be shipyard-fabricated, and marine-transported to its deployment location, where it would be moored in place in sheltered and protected waters at the shoreline. Once berthed, the plant would be connected to the existing shore-side transmission system thus avoiding some of the significant capital costs associated with terrestrial nuclear power plant deployments.

“We look forward to our continued work with NuScale Power to integrate their flexible, proven and advanced SMR technology into Prodigy’s marine plant system,” said Mathias Trojer, Prodigy Clean Energy Chief Executive Officer.

“Our combined technologies can generate scalable clean energy at any coastal location. Together, we will rapidly expand the accessibility of safe, zero-emissions, and reliable energy globally, as well as to locations right here in Canada.”

NuScale Power and Prodigy Clean Energy have been collaborating since 2018, investigating the feasibility of integrating NuScale Power Modules (NPMs) into Prodigy’s Marine Power Station. Under the first MOU the two firms completed the conceptual design and economic assessment phases for the project.

Details about what has been accomplished so far remain under proprietary wraps. According to Diane Hughes, Vice President, Marketing & Communications for NuScale Power, no sites have been selected so far for the floating power stations nor did she name any potential customers.

“Deployment sites are currently under exploration,” Hughes said. “The NuScale and Prodigy MOU will support customer engagement efforts to develop demonstration and commercial opportunities.”

Hughes added, “Customers for marine-deployed generating stations powered by NuScale Power Modules would include utilities and private companies needing anywhere from 100 MWe to approximately 900 MWe of power. The plants are suitable for deployment at any coastal location worldwide.”

In terms of time to market, Hughes said, “Prodigy’s marine-deployed generating station technology powered by NuScale Power Modules will be ready for power generation before 2030.”

So far neither firm has released information on the specifications for the barge. Prodigy did not respond an email media inquiry about the new MOU.

Cost of a Floating SMR is the Reactor, a Barge, and Towing to the Customer

A 12-pack or set of NuScale 77 MWe SMRs would provide a customer with 924 MWe of electrical power.  According to a briefing on NuScale’s website, the capitalized construction cost per kW for the NuScale plant is $3,600/Kw for the “nth of a kind” factory manufactured unit.  NuScale also offers smaller power plant solutions in 4-module (308 MWe) and 6-module (462 MWe) sizes.

Put another way, a 77 MWe SMR would cost about $277M not including differences such as site conditions, regional construction labor costs, and module transportation. The cost of a barge to permanently hold the reactor and the cost of towing it a customer site would be extra.

nuscale river  barge transport tugboat-smr_thumb

Conceptual image of a NuScale SMR/Barge Being Shipped by River

A 12 pack of NuScale SMRs (nth of a kind) would come in at about $3.3 billion for 924 MWe.  By comparison,  in today’s global market, a 1,000 MW PWR would cost on average about $5,600/Kw or $5.6 billion. The twin 1150 MW AP1000s being built in Georgia are coming in at $9,000/Kw or about $10.4 billion each. These numbers maker SMRs, even with the additional cost of a barge, shoreline infrastructure on both ends, and towing it to a customer, look good by comparison.

The plan is to deploy NuScale’s small modular reactors (SMR) at 250 MWt / 77 MWe by ocean going barge. These oversized open ocean barges are built to the requirements set by the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). Ocean barges are designed for the transportation of cargo in open seas. The types of barges Prodigy is likely to need provide advantages with open deck space for over-sized cargo as well as shallow port access.

Ocean tug and barge engineering

Example of an ocean going barge and ship to deliver it. 
Image: Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering

The NuScale/Prodigy barge must be able to handle approximately 700 tons that the SMR weighs plus support equipment including the control room, fuel handling mechanisms, and a connection between the reactor and  a shore based switchyard. Keep in mind that the reactor is designed to be installed and operated at a customer site in an upright or vertical position.

power-module-dissection.png

Other than a control room for the reactor, and other facilities to support the operators, it is not likely the plant would have living quarters.  Each reactor measures 65 feet tall x 9 feet in diameter. It sits within a containment vessel measuring 76 feet tall x 15 feet in diameter.

Once the reactor, arriving in three modules, reaches its shoreline destination to be set up, it will need a heavy crane to lift the modules into an assembly in an upright position. The reactor once assembled will need a structure to protect it from the elements and to be the transfer point for all shoreline connections and access points.

The joint effort by NuScale and Prodigy Energy joins a growing field of competitors that include Russia, China, South Korea, and Denmark.

Danish Firm Plans Floating SMR for Asian Customers

Floating ‘mini-nukes’ could power countries by 2025, says startup

Seaborg, a Danish company,  plans to fit ships with small nuclear reactors to send energy to developing countries. Floating barges carrying advanced nuclear reactors could begin powering developing nations by the mid-2020s, according to the Danish startup company.

Seaborg Technologies believes it can make cheap nuclear electricity a viable alternative to fossil fuels across the developing world as soon as 2025.

Seaboarg PowerBarge_OneModule_WhiteBG

Conceptual Image of the Seaborg Floating SMR

Its proprietary compact molten salt reactor is designed for countries that lack the energy grid infrastructure to develop utility-scale renewable energy projects, many of which go on to use gas, diesel and coal plants instead. The ships are fitted with one or more small nuclear reactors, which can generate electricity and transmit the power to the mainland.

Troels Schönfeldt, the chief executive of Seaborg, said the company’s 100 MWe  compact molten salt reactor would take two years to build and would generate electricity that would be cheaper than coal-fired power.

Seaborg has raised about €20m (£18.3m) from private investors, including the Danish retail billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen, and received the first of the necessary regulatory approvals within a four-phase process from the American Bureau of Shipping this week.

Seaborg hopes to begin taking orders by the end of 2022 for the nuclear barges, which would be built in South Korean shipyards and towed to coastlines where they could be anchored for up to 24 years.

The “turn-key solution” is important to fast-growing developing economies to power their nascent industries, purify drinking water, and produce clean-burning hydrogen as demand for energy access rockets in the years ahead.

“The scale of the developing world’s energy demand growth is mind-boggling,” Schönfeldt said. “If we can’t find an energy solution for these countries, they will turn to fossil fuels and we surely won’t meet our climate targets.”

The first power barges will have two reactors installed delivering 200MWe and over the 24-year lifetime will offset 33,600,000 tons of CO2 compared with an equivalent coal power plant. Seaborg said it is  developing an inherently safe 4th generation nuclear Compact Molten Salt Reactor (CMSR) with an essential proprietary moderator.

With its uranium-based fluoride fuel salt, the CMSR has a number of prominent features: It cannot meltdown or explode, it cannot release radioactive gasses to air or water, and it cannot be used for nuclear weapons. The CMSR will be installed on modular power barges. The barge design enables configurations with two, four, six or eight CMSRs delivering up to 800MWe or 2000MWt.

The American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) said on 17 December that it had issued a Feasibility Statement for the Compact Molten Salt Reactor (CMSR) developed by Danish nuclear company Seaborg Technologies. The Feasibility Statement is the first milestone in the ABS New Technology Qualification (NTQ) process, a five-phase process that aligns with product development phases.

Seaborg Technologies was founded in 2014 by scientists with experience from the Niels Bohr Institute, Technical University of Denmark, CERN, UC Berkeley, European Spallation Source, and Paul Scherrer Institute. The first external funding was secured in early 2018. The team today encompasses 30+ experts in a variety of disciplines (inc. 12 PhDs), attracted to Copenhagen from all around the world.

Molten Salt Reactors for Marine Power

Core-Power-Reactor_M08.e7c1d3Seaborg is not the only firm working on molten salt reactors for ship power and propulsion. A company named Core Power has an effort to create a marine-MSR that is an iteration of the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR.) (Image right. Core Power file)

The MCFR is being developed by a Team consisting of TerraPower together with Southern Company, ORANO,3M and CORE POWER.

For a review of maritime interest in molten salt reactors for ship power and propulsion see the analysis published in the trade press – Maritime Executive for 05/14/21.

“A module measuring 13 feet by 23 feet using a briefcase-sized load of solid fuel weighing 440 pounds could deliver 100 MW of thermal energy for up to 25 years. This potentially cost-competitive technology has potential for future commercial ship propulsion, along with multiple stationary floating power generation applications.”

“The modular molten salt reactor could deliver up to 100 MW of thermal energy at sufficient temperature to generate steam to activate turbines, which drive electrical generators and which power the ship and its propulsion system.”

The article also points out the MSR could move large bulk carriers at faster speeds than fossil fueled ships and without CO2 emissions.

South Korea Firms to Manufacture Floating Nuclear Power Plants

(Global Construction Review) Kepco Engineering and Construction, a subsidiary of state-owned Korea Electric Power Corporation, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering that sets out plans to develop ships fitted with small modular reactors.

kepco floating nuclear barge

Conceptual Image of Kepco’s Floating SMR

Kepco is planning to use the power barges to supply electricity to island nations in the Pacific ocean where power grids are hard to install, or areas whose power demand is surging dramatically.

Korea’s move follows Russia’s successful completion of the Akademic Lomonosov, the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, which began supplying heat and power to the Russian port of Pevek on the East Siberian Sea earlier this year.

It also follows plans by China, first announced in 2016, to build a fleet of floating reactors to supply power to islands in the South China Sea which will be used mostly to supply power to military bases there that are  part of its geopolitical ambitions.

The South Korean project will combine Kepco’s “world-class nuclear power plant design and construction technology” and Daewoo’s diverse experience and shipbuilding know-how.

Kepco added the agreement was expected to lead to the development of floating offshore nuclear power plants equipped with BANDI-60 reactors, a small modular reactor design it has been developing since 2016.

South Korea / KHNP To Invest $350 Million in SMR Design and Licensing

(NucNet)  Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) is speeding up the development of a small modular reactor and plans to invest around $350M to design a plant over five years and obtain licenses over three years according to a report by Business Korea.

Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has been developing the “system-integrated modular advanced reactor” (Smart), a medium-sized unit designed for generating electricity and for thermal applications such as seawater desalination. The project has a long standing working relationship with Saudi Arabia for this purpose.

iaea_smart_thumb

Earlier this year KHNP said it was carrying out a project to improve the Smart plant, development of which began in 1997. The reactor received the first standard design approval from the South Korean regulator in 2012.

Reports in South Korea in April said KHNP was working with Korea Atomic Research Institute to obtain a license for the improved Smart by 2028.

Saskatchewan Indigenous Companies to Explore SMRs

Three Saskatchewan Indigenous-owned companies have signed an agreement to pursue small modular reactor (SMR) investments.

Kitsaki Management, Athabasca Basin Development and Des Nedhe Group say they are in a position to support this emerging technology from construction to operation and maintenance.

Sean Willy, CEO of Des Nedhe Group, said their companies have supported uranium mining in northern Saskatchewan since the 1980s and they want to make sure their voices are heard in this “new and exciting technology.”

“We think if you’re serious about climate change and you want to make a difference on the decarbonizing the power-producing aspects, small nuclear reactors is the way to go,” he told Global News.

“We look at this as a made-in-Canada approach because all the uranium that’s coming out of Canada is coming from northern Saskatchewan.”

Willy feels they will be able to bring an Indigenous business focus to the development and construction of SMRs, one he believes no one else can bring to the table.

“We support this industry. We want to make sure that these things get to the finish line and are effectively and safely put in place across the country and make sure that Indigenous participation is maximized.”

The Saskatchewan government is exploring the viability of SMRs. It has signed MOUs with the governments of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick to collaborate on advancing SMRs as an option to provide clean energy to address climate change.

The Saskatchewan government is exploring the viability of SMRs. It has signed MOUs with the governments of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick to collaborate on advancing SMRs as an option to provide clean energy to address climate change.

Under the proposal signed by the provinces, Saskatchewan could have the first of four grid-scale SMRs in service by 2032.

UK Launches Regulatory Assessment of Advanced Nuclear Reactors

(WNN) The UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has opened the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) to advanced nuclear technologies. BEIS has also published a policy paper stating that the advanced nuclear sector has the potential to play an important part in the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

GDA is a process carried out by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) to assess the safety, security, and environmental protection aspects of a nuclear power plant design that is intended to be deployed in Great Britain. Successful completion of the GDA culminates in the issue of a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from the ONR and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from the EA.

In the foreword to the report – Entry to Generic Design Assessment for Advanced Nuclear Technologies Instructions and Guidance for Requesting Parties – Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth Anne-Marie Trevelyan noted that nuclear power, whether large-scale, small-scale, or advanced, will have a key role to play in meeting the country’s net-zero by 2050 goal.

The plan also set target milestones for the first nuclear power plants using small modular reactors (SMRs) to be built in the UK by the early 2030s, alongside an advanced modular reactor (AMR) demonstration plant.

With the publication of the GDA guidance for advanced nuclear technologies, BEIS is “unlocking a key step on the path to their deployment” in the UK, Trevelyan said.

“Opening GDA to advanced nuclear technologies this year, as the UK prepares to host COP26, showcases continued UK leadership in tackling climate change and the important role that nuclear has in our future net-zero energy mix,” she added.

The IAEA ARIS database lists only one new nuclear reactor design unique to the UK. It is the Rolls Royce 440 MWe LWR. A number of firms from other countries have opened marketing offices in the UK to seek opportunities there. Most of the designs are also LWRs such as the NuScale 77 MWe SMR and the GE Hitachi BWRX 300MWe SMR.

Several years ago GE Hitachi pitched its sodium cooled 331 MWe PRISM advanced reactor to the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to burn spent nuclear fuel. PRISM fuel and core can be tailored to specific missions ranging from plutonium disposition to the maximization of fuel efficiency. The reactor fuel element design is a metal alloy comprised of uranium, plutonium and zirconium. Negotiations with the NDA did not proceed to a contract. Since then GE Hitachi has partnered with TerraPower as part of project funding under the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 17, 2021

Given the island nations, who are first/most affected by climate change, are the ones who struggle with getting away from imported fossil fuels (and the high resultant energy costs), this seems like it could check a lot of boxes. Will be curious to see the first pilot in practice before rushing to conclusions though

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on May 18, 2021

Land-based nuclear power plants have a selling point that floating one generally lack: local job creation.  Even "factory built" SMRs like NuScale are expected to employ a large construction crew, to do the earth-work, build the concrete and steel buildings, and wire&plumb together the equipment.  Competing barge-mounted SMR designer Thorcon appears to be working with Indonesia as their first customer, initially using a Korean shipyard for construction, but with the hope that the Indonesian shipyard will get the bulk of the action at some point.

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