NuScale CEO remains upbeat after CFPP cancellation

16 November 2023

The termination of the project that had been expected to be the first operational NuScale SMR reactor was "very disappointing" but the company remains bullish about the future, according to the company's CEO.

NuScale's vision of an SMR plant (Image: NuScale)

Speaking in a special update to the 2023 ANS Winter Conference and Expo, hosted by the American Nuclear Society (ANS),  John Hopkins said the mutual decision to cancel the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) project at a site at Idaho National Laboratory was reached after it became clear that customer Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) - a nonprofit made up of 50 municipalities from across seven states - would be unable to obtain the amount of subscriptions needed to move the project forward.

This was one of three conditions that had to be met for the project to continue to move forward, Hopkins said: "One is they had to obtain the amount of subscription from their customers and their members to move the project. Second, the US government needed to continue to fund, and third, we needed to come in with a price target on a per-megawatt-hour basis."

Hopkins' words reflected comments to NuScale's third-quarter earnings call of 8 November, when the CEO said recently completed estimates had shown that capital costs, when adjusted for inflation, had remained stable and the cost for NuScale's SMR technology had also remained steady. CFPP had targeted 80% subscription for the project by year-end but despite "significant efforts" by both parties it appeared unlikely that the project would have enough subscription to support deployment.

"UAMPS is very, very unfortunate," Hopkins told the ANS, adding that the project had received "so much support" from INL Director John Wagner and Rebecca Casper, the mayor of Idaho Falls. "But it just wasn't meant to be. And so why continue to spend money if you know by year-end that more than likely because of the subscription, the project would not go forward? So, we move on."

Moving forward

Doosan Enerbility is already producing forgings and materials needed to manufacture the first NuScale Power Modules. The company envisages transferring those modules to its next customer, Hopkins told the ANS.

NuScale's SMR technology is currently under consideration in countries across the world, with projects in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Asia listed on the company's website. Romanian company RoPower Nuclear "has just approved the second round of funding for the FEL-2, which is very good for that project", Hopkins told the ANS. "That project in particular is extremely important for our United States government, our industry, and the Romanian government," he added.

In October, NuScale announced plans by US infrastructure company Standard Power to develop SMR facilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania using NuScale's reactor technology to power nearby data centres. In the quarterly results, Hopkins said the project envisaged 24 power modules across two plants, collectively producing nearly 2 GWe. This is progressing, he told the ANS: "Hopefully we'll have our master services agreement completed, if not this week, next."

Meanwhile, Polish copper and silver producer KGHM Polska Miedź SA, who earlier this year received a decision-in-principal from the country's Ministry of Climate and Environment approving a potential SMR, has  denied media reports alleging that its cooperation with NuScale has been terminated. KGHM said NuScale's technology was identified as a "preferred" technology in its application given the reactor's certification progress in the USA, but said it is one of several SMR technologies that "could be used in KGHM's planned investment".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News