Chubu to take stake in SMR developer

07 September 2023

Chubu Electric Power Co has announced it is to invest in US small modular reactor (SMR) developer NuScale Power.

(Image: Chubu)

The Japanese company says it has entered into an agreement to acquire issued shares in NuScale from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), subject to regulatory approvals.

NuScale's pressurised water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single integrated unit is the only SMR design which has to date been certified by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is being considered in more than 10 countries around the world, Chubu noted. The first NuScale VOYGR SMR plant in the USA is expected to begin operating at a site at Idaho National Laboratory in 2029. With the US Department of Energy providing more than USD1.3 billion in financial support for the first deployment of the NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant, "it can be said that NuScale is the frontrunner in SMR development", the company added.

"Through our investment in NuScale, we aim to earn revenue from NuScale's future business expansion," Hiroki Sato, CEO of Chubu's Global Business Division, said. "In addition, it is important to secure all options for the sustainable use of nuclear power generation, which is indispensable for realising a decarbonised society and we will continue to promote social implementation of innovative technologies to enhance our corporate value."

According to Reuters, Sato told journalists that, as an equity owner, the company is investing in NuScale to expand its revenue base. He said it would be "difficult" to deploy SMRs in Japan "anytime soon... but we have high expectations for the future development of next-generation reactors in Japan".

JBIC made a strategic investment of USD110 million in NuScale in 2022, through a purchase of equity from NuScale majority owner Fluor Corporation. The bank's investment was via a special-purpose company established by Japanese engineering companies JGC Corporation and IHI Corporation to make equity investments in NuScale, Japan NuScale Innovation LLC.

Chubu owns the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka prefecture. The three operable units (Hamaoka 3 and 4 are boiling water reactors, Hamaoka unit 5 is an advanced boiling water reactor, or ABWR) are all in the process of seeking clearance to restart after the introduction of new regulatory requirements in 2013 by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News