The US approves the design of the first small modular nuclear reactor

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

NuScale Power’s design is the seventh reactor design cleared for use in the United States, a move that the Department of Energy says would provide the nation with a new clean source of energy and reduce emissions.

The NRC Commission voted to certify the design last July after a final technical review.

The rule takes effect on 2/21, allowing utilities to reference NuScale’s advanced light-water SMR design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor.

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Secretary Jennifer Granholm hosts a Department of Energy press conference in Washington, DC, Dec. 13, 2022.

Secretary Jennifer Granholm hosts a Department of Energy press conference in Washington, DC, Dec. 13, 2022.
(Reuters/Mary F. Calver/File Photo)

Each of the modules is able to generate 50 megawatts of emission-free electricity.

In addition, the department noted that the NuScale VOYGR SMR power plant can accommodate up to 12 factory-made power modules that are approximately one-third the size of a large reactor. Each power module uses natural processes to passively cool the reactor without additional water, power, or operator intervention.

The company is currently aiming for each module to be able to generate up to 77 megawatts. The Commission is expected to consider their application later this year.

The NuScale Power logo is seen on a smartphone, Oct. 5, 2022.

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

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“We are pleased to announce the historic Nuclear Regulatory Commission rulemaking for NuScale’s small modular reactor design, and we thank the Department of Energy (DOE) for its support during this process,” said John Hopkins, NuScale’s President and Chief Executive Officer Power an explanation.

NuScale CEO and Chairman John Hopkins speaks at the Lowery Theater on July 8, 2016 in Salford, England.

NuScale CEO and Chairman John Hopkins speaks at the Lowery Theater on July 8, 2016 in Salford, England.
(Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Department of Energy has provided more than $600 million since 2014 to support the design, licensing and location of NuScale’s VOYGR SMR power plant and other domestic SMR concepts.

It is working with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to demonstrate a six-module NuScale VOYGR facility at the Idaho National Laboratory, with the first module expected to be operational by 2029.

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NuScale announced this month that its target price for power from the facility is $89 per megawatt-hour, up 53% from the previous estimate of $58 per MWh.

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