First part of Idaho SMR licence application submitted

01 August 2023

CFPP LLC has applied to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a Limited Work Authorisation to begin early construction activities for the proposed Carbon Free Power Plant (CFPP) on a site at the Idaho National Laboratory. Early-scope construction is expected to begin in mid-2025, with a view to commercial operation of the first NuScale power module at the site by the end of 2029.

L-R: Brian Smith (NRC), Karin Feldman (NuScale Power), Mason Baker, Robert Taylor (NRC) and Carrie Fosaaen (NuScale Power) mark the submission of the LWA (Image: CFPP LLC)

The Limited Work Authorisation (LWA) application is a "significant milestone" in the development of the plant, which will use NuScale Power's VOYGR-6 small modular reactor (SMR), and is the first part of the combined licence application for the plant. A combined licence - or COL - authorises a licensee to construct and (with certain specified conditions) operate a nuclear power facility at a specific site. CFPP LLC said this is the first time under current regulations that a standalone LWA application has been submitted ahead of the remainder of the combined licence application, which it expects to submit to the NRC next January.

CFPP LLC President Mason Baker said the LWA application submittal was an "imperative step" in keeping the project on schedule for commercial operation (of the first module) by the end of 2029. The submittal letter notes that commercial operation of the other modules is targeted for 2030.

"Commencing with construction activities allows for progress to continue on the CFPP site prior to the full authorisation granted in the COL. It also marks a significant milestone as a major CFPP submittal to the NRC, and more broadly, the first application to the NRC for construction of a full-scale, commercial SMR," Baker said.

Necessary approvals under the US National Environmental Policy Act will also be completed prior to commencement of early construction activities at the Idaho site.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems identified a preferred site near Idaho Falls for the construction of an SMR in 2016. The preferred site lies within the boundary of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). In 2020 the US Department of Energy approved a multi-year cost share award to CFPP LLC of up to USD1.4 billion to help demonstrate and deploy a NuScale power plant there, and work on the combined licence application began in 2021.

The CFPP combined licence application will seek a licence to construct and operate a nuclear power plant comprising six SMRs and associated common facilities. The NuScale Power Module - a pressurised water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single 77 MWe unit - last year became the first SMR design to receive approval from the NRC, with the regulator issuing its final rule certifying the design in January this year. NuScale submitted an application for Standard Design Approval (SDA) for the six-module configuration of the plant - VOYGR-6 - on 1 January. The NRC has said it expects to complete its review of the application and grant the SDA by the end of July 2025.

NuScale has already placed its first order with Korean company Doosan Enerbility for long-lead materials needed to manufacture the first power modules for the CFPP.

CFPP LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of UAMPS, a project-based consortium providing power supply, transmission and other services to its 50 members across the states of Utah, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wyoming. UAMPS is a political subdivision of the State of Utah.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News