GE Hitachi to deploy SMR; Oklo submits plans for fuel recycling facility

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Artist rendition of the BWRX-300 SMR (Source: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has signed a contract for the deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor (SMR) with Ontario Power Generation (OPG), SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon, the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America, the company said in statement.

The SMR will be deployed at OPG’s Darlington New Nuclear Project site, it said.

GEH will provide the reactor design as part of the accord which covers a range of project activities including design, engineering licensing support, construction, testing, training, and commissioning.

“We aim to deliver the first SMR in North America and, in doing so, lead the start of the a new era of nuclear power that will provide zero-emission energy generation, energy security, and energy reliability around the globe,” GEH President and CEO Jay Wileman said.

The BWRX-300 has garnered interest elsewhere, with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to start planning and preliminary licensing for potential deployment of the SMR at the Clinch River Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) are collaborating on licensing the TVA and OPG projects, GEH said.

The SMR has also been selected for potential deployment in Saskatchewan in the mid-2030s and in Poland, ORLEN Synthos Green Energy (OSGE) and partners have started the pre-licensing process by submitting an application to Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency for assessment.

Oklo submits plan for fuel recycling facility

Microreactor developer Oklo has submitted a Licensing Project Plan (LPP) to the NRC outlining the developer’s plans for pre-application engagement activities that support the future licensing of a first-of-a-kind fuel recycling facility, the company said in a statement.

Early applications such as this provide quick identification and reconciliation of regulatory requirements, enabling efficient and effective NRC license application review through a process equivalent to a staged licensing approach with added benefits of flexibility and customization, the company said in a statement.

The facility, a commercial-scale fuel recycling plant, will support the deployment of Oklo’s advanced fission power plants, it said.

The Oklo plant is able to recycle used fuel from other reactors as well as its own, which the company says is nearly 95% recyclable.

"The ability to economically recycle fuel is an important attribute for developing domestic fuel supplies, and offering recycling services also presents a sizeable opportunity," said Jacob DeWitte, co-founder and CEO of Oklo.

"We are taking a major step forward in bringing meaningful fuel recycling capabilities domestically that will produce cost-competitive fuel."

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected Oklo and its partners for four cost-share projects to commercialize advanced recycling technologies to produce fuel from used fuel.

NuScale hits CFPP milestone

The Project Management Committee (PMC) for the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) has reaffirmed its commitment to NuScale Power Corporation’s SMR technology after approving a new Budget and Plan of Finance (BFP) and an update to the Development Cost Reimbursement Agreement (DCRA), NuScale said in a statement.

The CFPP will be the first NuScale Power SMR power plant to begin operation in the United States near Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the U.S. DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

The plant will deploy six, 77-MW modules to generate 462 MW of power in a plan that remains on schedule and is a cost-competitive, carbon-free, dispatchable resource, it said.

NuScale worked with its partners at the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) to update the project’s BFP as part of the PMC which provides UAMPS an option to withdraw from the project if the CFPP’s price of energy per megawatt hour exceeds a certain threshold.

The new DCRA approved by the PMC establishes an updated target price of $89/MWh.

Vogtle 3 in service in April

Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle Unit 3 is expected to reach criticality during February and placed into service through April, the utility said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory filing made January 11.

This is a slight delay on previous forecasts of the first quarter of the year due to vibrations associated with certain piping within the coolant system, the company said.

Southern Nuclear Operating Company has identified, and is in the process of remediating, the vibrations, the filing said.

Extension of the in-service date for Unit 3 beyond the first quarter is estimated to result in additional base capital costs for Georgia Power of up to $15 million pre-tax per month, as well as related allowance for funds used during construction and any additional related construction, support resources, or testing costs, it said.

Further updates will be provided in connection with The Southern Company’s earnings call in February, it added.

AP1000 reactor units 3 and 4 are the first new nuclear units to be built in the United States in more than thirty years.

By Reuters Events Nuclear