Dominion Energy invests in GE Hitachi SMR

21 May 2018

Dominion Energy is to provide funding that could lead to commercialising the BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR), GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) announced today. The 300 MWe reactor is derived from GEH's 1520 MWe Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) design.

Jon Ball, Executive Vice President of Nuclear Plant Projects for GEH, said the company was "thrilled" at Dominion's investment, the size of which has not been announced. "The BWRX-300 represents a significant improvement in the economics of new nuclear, an imperative for the long-term viability of the industry. It is more efficient, simpler, safer and needs a fraction of the footprint compared to the current fleet of light water reactors," he said.

According to GEH, the BWRX-300 leverages the design and licensing basis of the ESBWR, which received design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2014. The company projects the BWRX-300 will require up to 60% less capital cost per MW when compared to other water-cooled SMRs or existing large nuclear designs, which would make it cost-competitive with combined cycle gas and renewables.

"We believe that nuclear power has a vital role in ensuring a clean, reliable, and cost-effective supply of electricity to meet the needs of a growing economy," Dan Stoddard, Dominion Energy's , Chief Nuclear Officer, said. "We also believe the innovations GE Hitachi is pursuing with the BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor have the potential to make it a strong competitor in the marketplace. Our view is that a modest investment now to support further development of this technology is in the interest of both companies."

GEH said Dominion Energy's funding of the BWRX-300 provides "seed money" to further work that could lead to commercialisation of the technology, but noted that Dominion "has no plan at this time" to build the reactor at any of its commercial nuclear plants.

The NRC in 2015 approved a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for an ESBWR, Fermi 3, to be built by DTE Energy in Michigan. The ESBWR was also selected by Dominion Virginia Power as the technology of choice for a potential third reactor at North Anna in Virginia; for which a COL was issued in 2017. DTE has not to date taken a decision to proceed with Fermi 3, while Dominion placed the North Anna project on hold in September 2017.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News