US-based Holtec International has welcomed the passage of the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), “which includes landmark provisions to support deployment of nuclear power and other clean energy technologies”. It added: “This Act will turbocharge the rise of nuclear energy in the US, including Holtec’s SMR-160 small modular reactor power plants, which are engineered to provide clean, reliable 24/7 power from their unconditionally safe reactors.” Holtec said it envisioned the SMR-160 “as the centrepiece of a distributed clean energy eco-system, coupled with our Clean Energy Storage and Generation (CESG) technology, meeting the diverse needs of local economies, providing dispatchable electricity to meet peaking demands, and processing steam for industrial use, such as production of hydrogen fuel”.
The IRA tax incentives mean the SMR-160 nuclear plants are poised to deliver electricity “at market-competitive prices in both regulated and unregulated markets in the US, even considering the first-of-kind investment costs”, Holtex noted. “The incentives will accelerate broad SMR deployment, driving down the SMR-160 costs with mass produced components at Holtec’s US manufacturing facilities.”
Holtec said that thanks the US government support it had “significantly boosted its clean energy research and development budget to bring the first SMR-160 online as early as 2029 – one year earlier than previously scheduled”. Holtec has already submitted a $7.4 billion application to the US Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office to increase the capacity for SMR production at its existing US manufacturing facilities, to construct and commission four SMR-160 plants in the US, and to build a new Holtec Heavy Industries (HHI) complex for higher capacity manufacturing of SMR-160 components, modules and weldments.
“Holtec’s large federal loan request and erection of the largest nuclear manufacturing plant in the US are of a piece with our belief that the Inflation Reduction Act will unleash a massive growth across the country of base load and dispatchable clean energy plants uniquely provided by nuclear power and pave the way to a large global export market for the supply of US reactors.” Holtec is still evaluating the location of HHI and will likely build the proposed plant close to the site of its first SMR-160 project in the US. Candidate sites include Holtec’s Oyster Creek, as well as several other nuclear decommissioning sites owned by Holtec, undergoing decommissioning by subsidiary, Holtec Decommissioning International.
There are also nuclear, coal and greenfield sites under specific consideration by several nuclear operators in the US, such as Entergy. Site-specific plant layouts and environmental monitoring necessary to support the Construction Permit Application (CPA) are already underway for Oyster Creek. The support and enthusiasm of a state to host this new industry are likely to play a decisive role in siting the first SMR-160s and the new manufacturing plant, Holtec said.
“We expect to pair the SMR-160 plant with a Clean Energy Storage and Generation (CESG) system, the Green Boiler. A Green Boiler facility can store surplus energy from an SMR-160 power plant, and generally from the grid in periods of excess generation, then deliver that stored energy in times of generation deficit. A variation of the CESG system called HI-HEAT has been engineered to provide district heating systems, to enable countries lacking fossil fuel heat in winter months to heat their urban centres.
Image: Artist's impression of Holtec's SMR-160 plant (courtesy of Holtec)