The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a new programme that could see it share up to half of the cost of developing and deploying two small modular reactor designs.

US-based SMR designs that can be deployed by 2022 will be considered for the funding, which is estimated at $452 million over five years (subject to congressional approval). Designs deployable before 2022 may receive ‘additional consideration,’ according to the draft Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) released 20 January. DOE is taking industry comments on the draft FOA before making it final.

DOE said that that it would share up to half of the costs for engineering, design certification and licensing for up to two SMR designs. SMRs are reactor units with a nominal output of 300 MWe or less and are able to be fabricated remotely and transported to the site for assembly or components or operation, it said.

DOE also said that for work supported under the cost-shared partnerships it ‘encourages innovative business arrangements,’ such as consortia among power generation companies, plant owners/operators, reactor vendors, and nuclear suppliers and fabricators.

Westinghouse has already confirmed that it will apply for the funds with a consortium of un-named utilities. “Access to this investment fund helps lower the barrier to market entry for American companies,” the US vendor said in a statement.

Hyperion Power Generation, which is developing a 25 MWe liquid-metal cooled reactor also said that it will respond to DOE’s request for comments on the draft FOA.

Other US-designed SMRs that may be eligible for this funding include the Babcock & Wilcox mPower reactor, the NuScale reactor, and Holtec International’s HI-SMUR.