DOE still seeks beneficiary for small modular reactors

  • Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 1:25 p.m.

The Department of Energy has missed its target date for announcing the beneficiary of a $226 million grant for the use of small modular reactors.

“The Department is continuing to work through the review process for this important program, and is committed to ensuring that we take the time during the review process to get the decision right,” said Niketa Kumar, a DOE spokesperson.

Small modulator reactors – or SMRs – are defined as reactors with an electricity output of less than 300 megawatts. They are said to allow for less on-site construction, increase containment efficiency and heighten nuclear materials security, which would jump-start a depleting nuclear industry.

According to a press release by Friends of the Earth, at least two of the companies vying for the grant will be looking to build in South Carolina. NuScale and Holtec are both looking to design and license SMRs in the state with the help of the multimillion dollar grant.

“The delay in this second round of SMR subsidy announcements signals that the path to licensing and construction will be rocky,” said Friends of the Earth member Katherine Fuchs in the press release. “The vendors are unable to say how they will fund construction or if the reactors would ever be economical, so, at this point, their future is totally up in the air.”

More than a year ago, the Savannah River National Laboratory, the applied research and development laboratory at the Savannah River Site, announced plans to bring small modulator reactors to the Site. SRS made the decision in an effort to increase its land assets, energy facilities and nuclear expertise, according to an energy.gov article.

“The Energy Department is committed to restarting our nation’s nuclear industry and advancing innovative technologies, like small modular reactors, that will help create new jobs and export opportunities for American businesses and workers, while advancing a sustainable energy future,” Kumar added.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.

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