Funding for mPower reduced

14 April 2014

Babcock & Wilcox will slash its spending on the mPower small modular reactor project, having failed to find customers or investors. William Fox has replaced Christofer Mowry as CEO of the Generation mPower subsidiary.

B&W's mPower design was prioritised for deployment under a five-year cost-matching agreement with the US Department of Energy (DoE), and with the Tennessee Valley Authority named as the lead customer. The three of them supplied a budget of $150 million per year to develop mPower, hoping to build the first unit by 2022. Six units had been pencilled in for TVA's Clinch River site at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

With the DoE arrangement now one year old, B&W hoped to have secured a number of utility customers for the small reactor as well as investors keen to take a majority share in its development. Spokesperson Aimee Mills told World Nuclear News that B&W had been unsuccessful in these aims, "There was interest from customers and interest from investors, but none have signed on the dotted line."

The result is that B&W has decided to reduce its spending on mPower to a maximum of $15 million per year and has begun negotiating with TVA and the DoE to find a workable way to restructure and continue the project. Another change for the company's future was the replacement of Christofer Mowry as CEO of the Generation mPower subsidiary. An official filing announced that Mowry had left and that William Fox had taken over.

A statement from B&W said it "continues to believe in the strength of the mPower technology," but without additional investors or buyers for the reactor, "the current development pace would be slowed."

mPower represents one of two strands in the DoE's planned $450 million push for small modular reactors - the other is NuScale, a 45 MWe reactor. In February this year Westinghouse announced it would scale back its development of its 225 MWe small modular reactor design, having lost out in the DoE competition.

Elsewhere in the world small reactors are under development in Argentina, China and Russia. Construction is underway on the 27 MWe CAREM unit at Atucha; on two 105 MWe HTR units at Shidaowan; while two 35 MWe KLT-40S reactors around being mounted on a barge to create the Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear power plant.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News