The United States approves the design of the first small-scale nuclear reactor

The US Nuclear Regulatory Authority has approved an advanced small modular reactor (SMR) design for the first time.

NuScale Power’s design has become the seventh reactor design approved for use in the United States, a move the Energy Department said would provide the nation with a new source of clean energy and lead to lower emissions.

The NRC committee voted to endorse the design last July, after a final technical review.

Effective February 21, the rule allows utilities to reference NuScale’s advanced light water SMR design when applying for a joint license to build and operate a reactor.

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Secretary Jennifer Granholm hosts a press conference for the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., December 13, 2022.
(Reuters/Mary F. Calver/file photo)

Each of the units is capable of generating 50 megawatts of emissions-free electricity.

In addition, the department noted that the NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant can accommodate up to 12 factory-fabricated power units that are about one-third the size of a full-scale reactor. Each power unit takes advantage of natural processes to passively cool the reactor without the need for water, power, or additional operator action.

The company currently aims to enable each unit to generate up to 77 megawatts. The committee is expected to review their applications this year.

The NuScale Power logo is shown on a smartphone, October 5, 2022.

The NuScale Power logo is shown on a smartphone, October 5, 2022.
(Photo illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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“We are pleased to announce the historic setting of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rules for NuScale’s small modular reactor design, and thank the Department of Energy (DOE) for its support throughout this process,” said John Hopkins, President and CEO, NuScale Power. Permit.

Signs stand outside the US Department of Energy (DOE) headquarters in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, February 14, 2020.

Signs stand outside the US Department of Energy (DOE) headquarters in Washington, DC, US, on Friday, February 14, 2020.
(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Department of Energy has provided more than $600 million since 2014 to support the design, licensing and siting of NuScale’s VOYGR SMR Power Plant and other local SMR concepts.

It is working with Utah Municipal Energy Systems to demonstrate the six-unit NuScale VOYGR station at Idaho National Laboratory, with the first unit expected to be operational by 2029.

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NuScale said this month that the price target for power from the plant is $89 per megawatt-hour, up 53% from a previous estimate of $58 per megawatt-hour.

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