The would-be builders and owners of the first NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) have confirmed they plan to submit a design certification application to US regulators by the end of 2016 and an application for a combined construction and operation licence (COL) in late 2017 or early 2018.
NuScale Power and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) outlined the envisaged timescale for their applications in a response to a May 2015 request from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The regulator had requested the information from applicants or potential applicants for SMR licences to inform its own planning processes.
According to the joint submission from NuScale and UAMPS, NuScale intends to submit a design certification application (DCA) for its scalable SMR plant by 31 December 2016 at the latest. UAMPS subsequently plans to submit a COL application referencing the design in the fourth quarter of 2017 or by the end of the first quarter of 2018.
The DCA will reference a design containing up to 12 reactor modules in a single reactor building. The COL application will be for a single plant, containing up to 12 modules.
A site has not yet been chosen, but UAMPS is in the initial stages of site selection and is evaluating potential sites in Idaho including on property within the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) complex. NuScale said that it does not intend to request an Early Site Permit (ESP), a site-specific evaluation of the site safety, environmental impact and emergency planning regarding a proposed nuclear plant which can then become part of the COL application. "UAMPS currently has not developed plans to request an ESP, but will inform the NRC if this information changes," the companies said.
NuScale's self-contained SMR houses the reactor core, pressuriser and steam generator inside a single containment vessel. It relies on gravity, not pumps, to circulate the water in the primary circuit up through a riser above the core and down through a helical coil steam generator. With a single unit generating up to 50 MWe (gross), a plant of 12 modules would be able to produce up to 600 MWe (gross). Each module is just under 25m in length, 4.6m in diameter and weighs around 450 tonnes.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting the development of several SMR programs through federal funding initiatives, and NuScale was selected in 2013 to receive matched funding of up to $217 million to support the cost of developing, licensing and commercialising the reactor from DOE. NuScale is already engaged in pre-application communications with the NRC.
NuScale's reactor design is based on an original reactor concept developed at Oregon State University, spun out to form the NuScale company in 2007. Fluor Engineering, NuScale's majority owner, has to date invested over $170 million in the project.
Regional agency UAMPS is a political subdivision of the State of Utah that provides wholesale electricity to community-owned power systems, representing members from Utah, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming. It is a member of the Western Initiative for Nuclear (WIN) collaboration, set up by NuScale in 2013 to study the demonstration and deployment of a multi-module NuScale SMR plant in the mid-western USA by 2024. Under teaming agreements signed under the WIN initiative, UAMPS' Carbon Free Power Project would be the first NuScale SMR plant and would be operated by Energy Northwest.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News