Slovak Nuclear & Decommissioning Company (JAVYS – Jadrová a Vyraďovacia Spoločnosť) and US-based Westinghouse Electric Company have signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) “to create a space for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and in the implementation of projects aimed at the development of small modular reactors (SMRS)”.

JAVYS is a state-owned joint-stock company under the Economy Ministry and a 51% shareholder in subsidiary Jadrová Energetická Spoločnosť Slovenska (JESS) with Czech utility ČEZ holding 49%. JESS was formed in December 2009 specifically to build and operate a new NPP at Slovakia’s Bohunice site.

JAVYS said that, precisely because, as a shareholder of JESS, it is responsible for the construction of a new nuclear power source, it is trying not only to evaluate all available technologies, “but also to process professional materials that can later be used by the Slovak government as part of the decision-making process on the type and size of the new nuclear power source”.

JAVYS Chairman & CEO Dr Pavel Štuller said: "The signing of the memoranda is the result of mutual negotiations, the ambition of which is to create a space for cooperation for detailed technical and business discussions and review of cooperation in the next steps towards the implementation of SMR and AP1000 technology in Slovakia.”

He added that the MOUs create “a framework for cooperation between the two companies in the implementation of future development projects in the field of small modular reactors and nuclear power”. He added: “Of course, we expect, above all, a wider exchange of information in the field of new technologies so that we can assess their suitability for inclusion in the Slovak energy network. Signing memoranda does not create any exclusivity, because we want to develop similar relationships with other companies. But they are the basis for the fact that once the Government of the Slovak Republic takes a decision on the location and type of a new nuclear source, we want to be a responsible manager of this process so that we can evaluate the possible benefits of the types of reactors offered by Westinghouse.”

Štuller noted JAVYS’s “rich experience with Westinghouse” in  collaborating on specific projects related to the decommissioning of NPPs in Jaslovské Bohunice. “In addition, Westinghouse is involved in and contributes to the processes of diversification of fresh nuclear fuel for reactors in Slovakia, thus representing, from our perspective, a company that covers the entire nuclear cycle,” he said.

Westinghouse President David Durham said the company was “very excited to work with the JAVYS team to secure their energy future by sharing information about our advanced and proven AP1000 and AP300 reactor technologies”.

The AP1000 is a Generation III+ pressurised water reactor (PWR) with fully passive safety systems. Currently, the AP1000 is not licensed or operating anywhere in Europe. In the USA two AP1000 reactors are under construction at the Vogtle NPP in Georgia but are significantly delayed and over budget. Two Westinghouse AP1000 units are in operation at China’s Sanmen and Haiyang NPPs, and two CAP1000 units, the Chinese version of the AP1000, are being built as the second phase of each station. Three AP1000 units have recently been selected in Poland and nine others are planned in Ukraine as well as one in Bulgaria. Westinghouse also claims that "the technology is under consideration at multiple other sites in Central and Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom and in the United States".

The AP300 SMR was launched by Westinghouse in May. It is a single-loop PWR based on the AP1000 technology. Westinghouse is aiming to get design certification by 2027, with construction of a first unit beginning in 2030 for operation in 2033.

Gautam Rana, US Ambassador to Slovakia, who attended the signing event, said the two MOUs laid the groundwork for closer commercial cooperation between the two companies in the field of civil nuclear energy. “This represents another milestone in the joint efforts of the US and Slovak governments to achieve energy security and sustainability in Slovakia with a perspective focus on world-class technologies," he said.

In June, the Slovak Ministry of Economy and power utility Slovenské Elektrárne (SE) signed a memorandum of cooperation with several companies to support the development of SMRs, by applying for funding from the USA's Project Phoenix. The companies included US Steel Košice, the Slovak Electricity Transmission System, VUJE, the Office of Nuclear Supervision and the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava.

The Ministry of Economy and SE will jointly apply for a grant of €2m ($2.16m) from the Project Phoenix, which is part of the US Department of State's Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor (FIRST) Program in cooperation with the US Department of Commerce's Small Modular Reactor Public-Private Program. These aim to promote transatlantic cooperation to deploy SMRs in Europe and Eurasia.

Slovakia operates four nuclear power units at two NPP sites – Mochovce 1&2 and Bohunice 3&4 – which generate half its electricity. Mochovce 3 was connected to the grid earlier in February and Mochovce 4, still under construction, is expected to be connected next year. In February JESS applied to the Slovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority for a siting permit for a new nuclear power plant near the existing Bohunice plant.

Image (from left to right): Petr Brzezina, President, Westinghouse Czech Republic and Slovakia; Elias Gedeon, SVP, Westinghouse; US Ambassador to Slovakia Gautam Rana; JAVYS Chairman & CEO Dr Pavol Štuller (courtesy of Westinghouse)