Teaming with NuScale Power on Small Modular Reactors

In 2013 Energy Northwest joined a teaming arrangement with NuScale Power and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) as part of the Western Initiative for Nuclear Project collaboration to promote a commercial, small modular reactor project in the western U.S. Energy Northwest holds first right of offer to operate the project. By doing so, Energy Northwest will become one of the first industry experts for small modular reactor operation.

According to the Northwest Power & Conservation Council, the nationwide push for low-cost, carbon-free energy requires development of non-greenhouse gas emitting technologies that can provide both annual energy and winter peak capacity. The council believes the most promising of these technologies in the Northwest are enhanced geothermal, solar photovoltaic with battery storage, and small modular reactors. Small modular reactors are factory fabricated nuclear generators, built and installed according to standardized designs.

Energy Northwest has a vision for nuclear power in our region, but this vision doesn’t include new nuclear generation in Washington during the foreseeable future. According to the Seventh Northwest Power Plan, in more than 90 percent of future energy scenarios explored by the Northwest Power & Conservation Council, cost-effective efficiency met all of our region’s electricity load growth through 2030 and, in more than half of the scenarios, all load growth through 2036.

The Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems located in Salt Lake City, however, is looking for a clean, 24/7 power source as a replacement option for coal plants in their service territory, and that source may be a small modular reactor facility in Idaho.

NuScale Power, located in Corvallis, Ore., is poised to supply that facility – the Carbon-Free Power Project. NuScale is working with UAMPS to site the CFPP at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls. With first right of offer to operate the project, EN seeks to gain SMR expertise to set the long-term planning stage for bringing that technology, when needed, to previously licensed sites near Columbia Generating Station.

Assuming key design certification and development milestones are met along the way, UAMPS intends to submit a combined construction and operating license application to the NRC by 2020. NuScale estimates that the first module will be operational by 2026, followed by the full, 12-module, 720-megawatt SMR plant by 2027. UAMPS estimates that the capital cost of this first plant will be around $2.9 billion.

In January 2018 the NRC found that NuScale’s design allows it to operate safety systems without being connected to the electric grid. The commission approved the design feature that would allow the plant to operate in a “hot standby” mode until the grid was once again available, at which time the plant could immediately start adding back power. NuScale is the first company to receive such an approval. The NRC’s safety review of NuScale’s reactor design is scheduled to be completed by late 2020.





(Click to access the NuScale Power website)