Japan’s IHI Corporation said on 27 May that it had decided to enter the small modular reactor (SMR) market by investing in US-based NuScale Power with JGC Holdings Corporation. As part of a commercial relationship with NuScale, IHI will provide cash investment in NuScale Power. The IHI-NuScale relationship results in IHI becoming a strategic supplier for NuScale Plants, whereby IHI will be a preferred supplier of certain manufactured components for NuScale Plants globally.

“Strategic partnership with an innovative SMR technology developer such as NuScale is a great opportunity for us,” said IHI President and CEO Hiroshi Ide. “IHI wants to support the move toward a carbon-neutral economy, and NuScale’s technology is safe, clean, reliable and closest to commercialization among its competitors. IHI can support rapid deployment of NuScale’s technology by leveraging IHI’s extensive engineering and manufacturing experience in the nuclear industry.”

Since the 1950s, IHI has been designing and manufacturing primary components for NPPs in Japan, but the domestic market has been stagnant since the Fukushima accident in 2011. “The world is seeking ways to decarbonise society to fight climate change, and the ratio of renewables in the energy mix is increasing,” said IHI. “Under these circumstances, load-following, scalable power sources that can complement renewable energy sources are becoming more important. SMR plants fill this role well because their multiple reactors can be operated independently, thereby allowing the plant to change its power output quickly to meet fluctuating demand.”

IHI has designated “carbon solutions” as a focus area for growth and decided to invest in NuScale because its SMRs are one of the most promising “carbon solutions”. NuScale’s SMR is the first to obtain Standard Design Approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and NuScale is already in the process of commercialising its technology. NuScale and Fluor are currently working for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) to bring the world’s first clean energy, carbon-free SMR project to commercialisation. “Based on IHI’s rich experience in the nuclear industry, IHI plans to play a central role in NuScale’s future projects through the supply of primary components and engineering support,” IHI said.

NuScale said the agreement “signals the second commercial relationship and investment in NuScale Power from a Japanese-based company, following the recent agreement with JGC Holdings Corporation, and is indicative of growing Japanese and global interest in NuScale’s groundbreaking small modular reactor (SMR) technology”.

NuScale Chairman and CEO John Hopkins said: “IHI’s welcome investment in NuScale Power compliments our effort to demonstrate how cleaner and safer advanced nuclear technology can bring numerous economic and environmental benefits to countries around the world as we all transition to clean energy.”