TVA, GEH cooperate on BWRX-300 deployment at Clinch River

03 August 2022

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) said it has entered an agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to support its planning and preliminary licensing for the potential deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) at the Clinch River site near Oak Ridge in Tennessee.

An artist rendering of a potential SMR facility at Clinch River (Image: TVA)

Under the agreement, GEH will also provide additional information needed as TVA continues to analyse the viability of SMRs in the Tennessee Valley, subject to future approval by its board of directors.

"TVA recently issued an industry-leading request for proposal for 5000 megawatts of carbon-free energy to be available by 2029 and, knowing the critical role advanced nuclear technology will play in our nation's drive to decarbonisation, we signed a partnership with GE Hitachi to advance our pursuit of small modular reactor technology," said TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash.

TVA said the agreement with GEH follows a collaboration agreement with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in April this year to develop advanced nuclear technology, including SMRs, in both Canada and the USA. The agreement allows the companies to coordinate their explorations into the design, licensing, construction and operation of SMRs.

OPG last year selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's BWRX-300 SMR for deployment at Darlington, where it says Canada's first commercial, grid-scale, SMR could be completed as soon as 2028. TVA has not yet specified a technology for construction at Clinch River, but the company has been in discussions with GE Hitachi concerning the BWRX-300, with Lyash in February saying he believed light-water reactor designs which are closely related to TVA's existing large units are closer to commercial deployment within the next decade. TVA has also partnered with Kairos Power in its project to deploy the Hermes low-power demonstration reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge.

Referring to the company's agreements with GEH and OPG, Lyash said: "Such collaborations could help reduce the financial risk that comes from development of innovative technology, as well as future deployment costs."

In February, TVA announced a new programme to explore advanced nuclear technology as part of its decarbonisation goals, with the pursuit of a construction licence application for an SMR at the Clinch River site one of its first tasks. It already has an early site permit (ESP) - issued by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2019 - which certifies that a site is suitable for the construction of a nuclear power plant from the point of view of site safety, environmental impact and emergency planning, but does not specify the choice of technology.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News