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.S. govt funds small nuclear reactors, with $billions more tax-payer money to follow

DOE Awards $160M to TerraPower and X-Energy to Build Advanced Nuclear Plants by 2027, Greentech Media, 14 Oct 20 The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $160 million to X-energy and TerraPower with the potential for billions more in federal funding, as the companies strive to build a working model of their smaller scale, more flexible advanced nuclear reactor designs by 2027. TerraPower is partnered with the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, a nuclear industry joint venture formed in 2007.

DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program will provide $80 million to each award winner, DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette said Tuesday. DOE intends to invest about $3.2 billion over the next seven years into advanced nuclear, subject to future congressional appropriations, he said………

Smaller reactors
 are critical to rejuvenate an industry that’s struggling to finance and build the massive, gigawatt-plus power plants that make up the world’s existing nuclear fleet. In the U.S., several of these have been canceled, and Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle expansion is behind schedule and over budget.

Meanwhile, existing reactors in Pennsylvania and Illinois are facing the threat of closure due to challenging energy market economics, and California’s sole remaining nuclear reactor is set to close by mid-decade…………

TerraPower’s initial plans for what it calls a traveling wave reactor drew investment from Gates and Sun Microsystems billionaire Vinod Khosla with its promise of using depleted uranium rather than enriched uranium-235. But that project was abandoned last year after the Trump administration imposed limits on U.S.-China technology transfer forced it to cancel its partnership with China National Nuclear Corp.  ……..

X-energy’s advanced pebble-bed reactor……  has yet to be proven in commercial form. A 15 MW demonstration reactor in Germany operated for two decades, but a second, larger-scale version was shut down after only four years of operation. China has built a 10 MW demonstration reactor, and a 250 MW unit began construction in 2012, but plans to start operations in 2019 have been pushed back, with no new completion date announced. ……

New nuclear reactor designs must undergo decades of testing and certification before they can be put into operation. NuScale Power, founded in 2007 to develop a light water modular reactor, received a key approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last month and hopes to deliver its first 50 MW Power Module units in 2027. Other companies pursuing small nuclear reactor designs include Hyperion Power GenerationTerrestrial Energy, and the now-defunct Transatomic. 

October 15, 2020 - Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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