Palisades SMR programme is under way: Holtec

05 December 2023

Holtec International says it will commission its first two SMR-300 small modular reactor units at the Michigan site by 2030, while it expects to restart the existing shut-down pressurised water reactor unit at the site by the end of 2025.

Holtec's image of a two-unit SMR-300 plant (Image: Holtec)

The company said it is aiming to file a construction permit application for the two Palisades SMRs in 2026 with the first SMR-300 plant targeted for mid-2030, subject to regulatory reviews and oversight.

"Siting the first two SMR-300 units at Palisades eliminates the delays associated with erecting the plant at an undeveloped property and confers the many benefits of synergy that accrue from the presence of a co-located operating plant - including shared infrastructure and operational expertise, enhancements to grid stability, and resource optimisation," Holtec CEO Kris Singh said. "By building at our own site with our own credit and our own at-risk funds, we hope to deliver the dual-unit SMR-300 plant within schedule and budget," he added.

Holtec has been developing its small modular reactor (SMR) unit since 2011. The SMR-300 is a pressurised water reactor producing around 300 MW of electrical power or 1050 MW of thermal power for process applications, and the company says it has undergone several design evolutions, the most recent of which is the incorporation of forced flow capability overlayed on gravity-driven flow in the plant’s primary system.

The addition of booster pumps for normal operations does not change the plant's passive safety features, as the pumps are not relied upon for safe shutdown operations, but makes the uprated plant "more conducive to timely licensing by the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] and other overseas regulatory authorities", the company said. Holtec International subsidiary SMR, LLC, is involved in pre-licensing interactions with the NRC regarding the previous variant, the SMR-160.

Holtec said its 700-acre Oyster Creek site in Central New Jersey, was another "favoured" location for early SMR-300 deployment, although the company says the focus there will be on hydrogen production: Holtec is part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub, one of seven hubs recently selected to share USD7 billion in federal funding to accelerate the commercial-scale deployment of low-cost, clean hydrogen.

Repowering Palisades

The Palisades nuclear power plant was shut down by Entergy in May 2022 after 50 years in service. The 805 MWe (net) reactor was defuelled that June, and its sale to Holtec was completed later that same month with decommissioning envisaged for completion in 2041. Holtec subsequently announced plans to repower the unit and in October of this year submitted a filing with the regulator to formally begin the process of seeking reauthorisation of power operations at the plant.

"The existing Palisades plant refurbished with an array of enhancements is on track to be restarted by the end of 2025 and is designed to provide decades of safe and reliable service," the company now says.

Palisades is currently classed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission as being in "full decommissioning".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News