The Babcock & Wilcox Company has been selected as the winner of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) competitively bid Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Licensing Technical Support Program, beating three other contenders. However, the DOE has revealed plans to issue a follow-on solicitation open to other companies and manufacturers, focused on furthering small modular reactor efficiency, operations and design.

B&W’s 180 megawatt pressurized water reactor design, mPower, beat three other contenders for the first funding award announced in March 2012. They were Westinghouse’s 225 MW SMR; NuScale Power, which envisages a 540 MW power plant comprise 12-mini-reactors; and Holtec with its 140 MWe design, dubbed HI-SMUR (for Holtec Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor).

B&W will receive the funding to support the accelerated development of its B&W mPower reactor. DOE will invest up to half of the total project cost, with the project’s industry partners matching this investment by at least one-to-one, DOE said, adding that the specific total will be negotiated between the Energy Department and Babcock & Wilcox (B&W).

“The funding programme, expected to be administered over the next five years, is the cornerstone of a public-private partnership created to share the challenges of developing and deploying SMRs across the U.S. before 2022,”B&W said in a statement.

B&W has teamed up with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Bechtel to pursue an award under this programme. Their team, mPower America currently has almost 400 employees working on the development and licensing of the mPower design, which is envisaged for a four-unit plant at TVA’s Clinch River Site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Commenting on the deal Christofer M. Mowry, President of B&W mPower, Inc said: “With the DOE’s support, we can deliver this important innovation to the energy industry and our nation more quickly and with less risk.”

“We are committed to maximizing the return on our government’s investment for our country and the public. The DOE’s selection validates B&W mPower as the leading SMR technology and is expected to accelerate market adoption both domestically and internationally, creating more high technology jobs and exports for our country,” he added.

DOE echoed this in a statement: “As this nascent industry continues to grow, the Energy Department is committed to supporting research and development that will advance efficient, safe and cost-effective small modular reactor technologies. The Department plans to issue a new funding opportunity announcement to address this goal and support continued design development and certification of innovative SMR technologies,” it said.

Westinghouse has already announced that it would apply for this second stage of funding, and that it was granted that it would be able to “accelerate the development and licensing” of its passively-safe SMR design.