Jose N  Reyes, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of NuScale Power, and co-designer of the NuScale passively-cooled small nuclear reactor said the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review of NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) is expected to be completed in September 2020.

In an interview with Neutron Bytes, published on 4 June, he said NuScale’s first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), plans to begin site preparation in 2021.  Nuclear construction (first concrete) will start in 2023, and the first module should be operational by late 2026. The full 12-module plant will be operational by 2027.

NuScale is making progress on supply chain development through agreements with manufacturers and technology companies, he said. In 2018, NuScale selected Virginia-based BWX Technologies to start the engineering work to manufacture NuScale’s SMR. “The decision, which follows a rigorous 18-month selection process, with expressed interest from 83 companies based in 10 countries, marks the first phase in bringing NuScale’s pioneering design to life,” he noted.

In 2018, NuScale announced the selection of Minnesota-based PaR Systems to begin engineering work for the manufacturing of the Reactor Building Crane. Earlier this year, NuScale and Ultra Electronics Energy unveiled a new safety display and indication system using field programmable gate array (FPGA) – representing the first application of FPGA technology for real-time display and monitoring in the US commercial nuclear industry. Additionally, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co  “is expected to bring its expertise in nuclear pressure vessel manufacturing and will join the larger US-led manufacturing team to build”.  

However, NuScale has no current plans to build a factory to fabricate NuScale Power Modules and has selected Virginia-based BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) to start the engineering work to manufacture the modules. Reyes noted that the Department of Energy (DOE) has already awarded around $300 million in cost-shared financial assistance to advance NuScale’s technology. “It is difficult to overstate the potential SMRs have to address our green energy needs in the 21st century, and we look forward to bringing our first plant online at the Idaho National Laboratory in 2026.” The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) plans to conduct nuclear energy R&D using NuScale’s light water reactor technology. “In doing so, it will create a test bed on an international scale for advanced reactor designs,” Reyes told Neutron Bytes.   

He said DOE “seeks long-term, reliable, resilient, and on-site electricity in support of INL operations” and through the recently-announced Joint Use Modular Plant (JUMP) programme, DOE and UAMPS have signed an MOU agreeing that at least one module of the SMR project will be used power production to support INL’s energy needs. “In addition to RD&D opportunities, the JUMP Programme will allow INL-DOE to explore the potential for secure, hardened microgrids and the use of nuclear energy beyond the electricity sector, including applications that could contribute to economic growth and national security.”

In May, NuScale announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sargent & Lundy for a strategic relationship to support deployment of NuScale Plants worldwide. Under the terms of the deal, Sargent & Lundy will become a NuScale investor, proceed with the development of the standard plant design based on the US Design Certification Application, and will provide additional architect-engineer support. Fluor Corporation will continue to be the EPC for plant construction and will work with NuScale and Sargent & Lundy on aspects of the NuScale standard plant design.