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SMRs See Progress in US, Canada, & Europe

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
  • 1,627 items added with 1,295,419 views
  • Mar 20, 2023
  • GEH’s BWRX-300 Completes First Two Phases Of Design Review
  • NRC to Start Technical Review of NuScale 77 MW Design
  • Czech Republic / CEZ, Wants First SMR In Operation In 2032
  • Sweden / Vattenfall Talking To Reactor Suppliers For SMR Deployment
  • UK Launches 2nd Competition To Support Small Nuclear Reactors
  • SMR Dashboard / NEA Tracking Progress Of 21 New Reactor Designs
  • Holtec, NRC, to Discuss Restarting Palisades Plant

GEH’s BWRX-300 Completes First Two Phases Of Design Review

(NucNet) GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) announced that its BWRX-300 small modular reactor has achieved a significant pre-licensing milestone in Canada with the completion of phases one and two of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) vendor design review process.

GEH said the BWRX-300 is the first SMR technology to have completed two phases of the CNSC’s vendor design review (VDR) process. It is part of a field of a dozen or so SMR developers involved in the VDR process.  A key feature of all designs in the competitive field is that every one of the contenders is promoting their designs as being capable of supplying both electricity and process heat for customers.

CNSC VDR Process Heat

Table Data from CNSC VDR and Vendor Websites:  Image: Neutron Bytes

In 2020, GEH made its first submittal to the CNSC for its review of the BWRX-300 design. Since then, GEH has made submittals addressing 19 vendor design review areas that included general plant description, control system and facilities, research and development, and design process.
After a detailed assessment of reactor designs, in 2021 Ontario Power Generation (OPG) selected the GEH BWRX-300 as the technology to be deployed at its Darlington nuclear power station site.

Sean Sexstone, the company’s executive vice-president of advanced nuclear, said: “The successful completion of these phases and the feedback that we have received on our SMR design are important steps in the deployment of this technology.”

Growing, Global Interest In BWRX-300

Recently, GEH, OPG, SNC-Lavalin and Aecon signed a project delivery agreement for the partners to provide expertise and services to develop, engineer and construct a BWRX-300 SMR, with construction to be complete by late 2028.

GEH said there is growing, global interest in the BWRX-300

Last month, Fermi Energia announced that it had selected the BWRX-300 for potential deployment in Estonia. Tennessee Valley Authority has begun planning and preliminary licensing for potential deployment of a BWRX-300 at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. SaskPower has chosen the BWRX-300 for potential deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s.

In Poland, Orlen Synthos Green Energy and its partners have started the pre-licensing process by submitting an application to Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency for assessment of the BWRX-300. Orlen plans to deploy a fleet of BWRX-300s with the potential for deployment of the first of those units by the end of this decade.

The CNSC and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission are collaborating on reviews of SMRs such as the BWRX-300 and last month the CNSC and Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency agreed to cooperate in the review of SMR technologies including the BWRX-300.

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NRC to Start Technical Review of NuScale 77 MW Design

nrc-logo_thumb.jpgThe U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it will begin the technical review of NuScale Power Corporation’s (NYSE:SMR) second Standard Design Approval (SDA) application.

NuScale submitted the application in late 2022, which is based on the VOYGRTM-6 (6-module) power plant configuration powered by an uprated 250 MWt (77MWe) SMR design. The design reflected in this application features the same fundamental safety case and passive safety features approved by the NRC in 2020, with a focus on the power uprate and select design changes to support customers’ capacity needs and further improve economics.

In a press statement the NRC said its staff will begin reviewing most of NuScale Power LLC’s application for standard design approval of the company’s 77 MWe/module Small Modular Reactor design once the company provides additional details on a key safety topic. NRC staff has concluded the majority of NuScale’s application supports the start of review activities.

The staff has determined portions of the application, discussing steam generator safety performance under certain conditions, require additional information. Once NuScale provides that information, the staff will develop a full review schedule.

A standard design approval is a determination by the NRC staff that a reactor design meets applicable NRC design requirements. Companies can reference a standard design approval when applying for a license to build and operate a reactor in the United States.

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Czech Republic / CEZ, Wants First SMR In Operation In 2032

(NucNet) Czech state-run power group CEZ, already considering ambitious plans for new large-scale nuclear reactors, is planning to begin operation of its first small modular nuclear reactor in a decade followed by another two units by 2040. Two more small units could follow in second half of 2030s as Prague steps up bid to switch from fossil fuels. The first SMR will be built at Temelín, one of CEZ’s two existing commercial nuclear power station sites.

“The first one will be launched around 2032 and the other two in the second half of the 2030s,” CEZ spokesman Ladislav Kriz said.

CEZ plans to build the next two at its current coal-fired power plants in a bid to switch from fossil fuels to greener technologies.

The company has already signed agreements to explore various SMR technology options with reactor developers NuScale, GE Hitachi, Rolls-Royce and Holtec.

The company said it was looking at other locations for future SMRs, including its other nuclear station at Dukovany and several coal-fired plants.

Coal to Nuclear Sites Identified

Czech state power company CEZ has tentatively identified two preferred sites for additional small modular reactors following plans for a first such unit at the existing Temelín nuclear power station site. The two sites are coal-fired generation sites at Detmarovice in the east of the country close to the border with Poland, and Tusimice in the northwest, close to the border with Germany.

Deploying SMRs will transform both plants into emission-free sites, CEZ Group has committed itself to preparing the construction of small modular reactors with a total capacity of over 1,000 MW after 2040.

CEZ said it is exploring other locations where additional SMRs could be built, including the existing Dukovany nuclear station site. All the other potential sites are coal sites. One, at Porici in the west of the country, has already been ruled out “due to the almost certain presence of an active fault near the site.”

The Detmarovice and Tusimice power plant sites will undergo “further intensive exploration and monitoring works” before it is finally clear whether they are suitable locations for SMRs. The exploration work, which began in the first half of February and is scheduled to be completed in the autumn, is primarily focused on excluding the existence of active tectonic faults, assessing the hydrogeology of the area and analysing the bedrock.

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Sweden / Vattenfall Talking To Reactor Suppliers or SMRs

(NucNet) Vattenfall has contacted potential reactor technology suppliers as it seeks to begin commercial operation of a first small modular reactor at the Ringhals nuclear power station in Sweden in the early 2030s.

A preliminary feasibility study will investigate the commercial, legal and technical conditions for building at least two new SMRs at Ringhals.

“We already have a dialogue with several potential technology suppliers and will proceed later this year with one or more of them to get concrete proposals for reactors,” Desirée Comstedt, business development manager for nuclear power at Vattenfall, said.

“We are also starting the work required for an environmental impact statement, which includes field studies and soil surveys in the area around Ringhals. And we are preparing to invite to local consultations after the summer to discuss with the parties concerned.”

‘Obvious Need’ For Nuclear, Wind And Solar

The feasibility study is expected to be completed later this year and is a central part of Vattenfall’s decision-making process towards submitting a permit application for new nuclear power plants.

Earlier this year Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson said his government was preparing legislation to allow the construction of more commercial nuclear power plants to boost electricity production and improve energy security.

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UK Launches 2nd Competition To Support Small Nuclear Reactors

(WNNrolls-royve-logo.pngBritish finance minister Jeremy Hunt said he would boost investment in nuclear power by launching a competition for small modular reactors (SMRs), such as those being developed by Rolls-Royce.

Britain aims to replace its ageing nuclear power stations as all but one of the plants, which generate around 13% of the country’s electricity, are due to close by 2030.

“I am launching the first competition for Small Modular Reactors,” Hunt said in his budget statement on Wednesday. It will be completed by the end of this year and if demonstrated to be viable we will co-fund this exciting new technology.”

Britain previously announced a competition for SMRs in the 2015 Autumn Statement with the first phase opening in 2016 and attracting interest from 33 eligible parties. The government broke its promise for funding a winner by closing the “competition” without moving beyond the initial, information gathering first stage.

Last year the government committed 210 million pounds to Rolls-Royce for its 500-million pound SMR program which could see the company open factories to build the reactors in Britain.

“Rolls-Royce SMR has called for rapid progress from the Government and we welcome the adoption of that principle in this process,” Tom Samson CEO of Rolls-Royce SMR said in a statement.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has begun a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the Rolls-Royce SMR  saying that the process – which looks at the design of a generic nuclear power station and is not site-specific – could take between four and five years. Rolls-Royce said in press statements it hoped to complete the process in two years.

Rolls-Royce SMR, which in November 2021 received GBP210 million (USD285 million) of UK government matched funding, has selected a shortlist of three sites for its first factory producing components for a fleet of its SMRs and identified a range of existing nuclear power plant sites in the UK that could potentially host its SMRs.

UK Policy is that Nuclear Energy is “Sustainable

The UK’s Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has announced that nuclear will “subject to consultation, be classed as environmentally sustainable in our green taxonomy” – he also launched a competition, to be completed by the end of the year, which could lead to co-funding for small modular reactors (SMRs).

In his set-piece address to the House of Commons outlining the government’s tax and spending plans, Hunt said “increasing nuclear capacity is vital to meet our net-zero obligations so to encourage the private sector investment into our nuclear program, I today confirm that, subject to consultation, nuclear power will be classed as environmentally sustainable in our green taxonomy, giving it access to the same investment incentives as renewable energy”.

He added: “Today I can announce two further commitments to deliver our nuclear ambitions. Firstly … I am announcing the launch of Great British Nuclear which will bring down costs and provide opportunities across the nuclear supply chain to help provide up to one quarter of our electricity by 2050. And secondly, I am launching the first competition for small modular reactors. It will be completed by the end of this year and if demonstrated as viable we will co-fund this exciting new technology.”

CEO of the UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, Tom Greatrex, welcomed the chancellor’s announcements, saying: “This is a huge step forward for UK energy security and net-zero. Nuclear’s inclusion in the UK green taxonomy is a vital move, following the example set by other leading nuclear nations, and will drive crucial investment into new projects, making it cheaper and easier to finance new reactors.”

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SMR Dashboard / NEA Tracking Progress Of 21 New Reactor Designs

(NucNet) A new Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) publication tracks the progress of various small modular reactor designs towards deployment and finds there is substantial momentum towards “game changing” commercialization that could help governments and policymakers around the world reach net zero by 2050. (OCED / NEA SMR Dashboard)

According to the Paris-based NEA new SMR designs are at various stages of development, from fundamental research on new concepts to commercial deployment and operation of mature designs.

nea dashboard template

It said innovation in nuclear energy – particularly various SMRs and Generation IV systems – is advancing in several countries and SMRs could reshape the energy market while supporting global efforts to decarbonize electricity.

SMRs can replace fossil fuels for on-grid power generation, replace diesel generators for off-grid mining and industrial operations, replace fossil fuels for cogeneration of heat and power for heavy industries and district heating, and enable large-scale water treatment and desalination to produce clean potable water.

“These varied market needs have prompted the development of a range of SMR technologies, which vary in technology, sizes, and configuration,” the NEA said. “They can be land-based or floating on water, fixed installations or transportable.

Policymakers Are ‘Overwhelmed’

“Policymakers are often overwhelmed with this great variety as they strive to consider which designs might meet their particular needs and in what time frame.”

The NEA SMR Dashboard is designed to help navigate this complex area of technology. It looks beyond the technical feasibility and technology readiness level of each SMR design to track the progress of specific designs across six parameters: licensing readiness, siting, financing, supply chain, societal engagement and fuel availability.

This publication tracks the progress of 21 SMR designs towards first deployment. It includes reactors under development in Argentina, China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

reactor concepts

Future editions will continue to track the progress of these designs and include additional SMR technologies as verifiable information becomes available and is assessed.

NEA director-general William Magwood said the nuclear sector is experiencing a level of interest and attention not seen since the early 1960s.

“This interest is largely sparked by the wave of innovation in small modular reactors that has the potential to reshape the way society and industry produces and uses energy.

“The next five to 10 years is going to be pivotal in terms of getting these new technologies to market.”

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Holtec, NRC, to Discuss Restarting Palisades Plant

The Holland Sentinel newspaper reports the owners of Palisades Nuclear Power Plant are set to meet with federal officials to discuss plans to potentially restart the shuttered plant.

Holtec Decommissioning International, which purchased Palisades in June 2022, will meet March 20th with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss the “proposed regulatory path to reauthorize operations at Palisades.”

“This meeting is an important discussion in Holtec’s efforts to re-power Palisades and potentially return 800 megawatts of safe and reliable carbon-free electricity back to Michigan,” Holtec said in a statement to the newspaper.

Earlier this month, Holtec applied for funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to aid in the reopening, its second attempt at funding after applying for, and being denied, funds through the Civil Nuclear Credit Program in late 2022.

The plant closed in May after more than 50 years in operation. Only months later, new owner Holtec applied for funding to reopen. That application was made public in September, with support from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but was denied by DOE in mid-November which awarded funds to keep the Diablo Canyon twin reactors open in California.

The newspaper reported that Holtec has acknowledged there will be “a number of hurdles” to reopening the plant, even if funding is secured. Those include financial commitment from the state, procuring a power purchasing agreement, upgrading the switchyard, partnering with a licensed operator for the restart, rehiring qualified and trained staff and maintenance and delayed capital improvements of the facility.

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