The Savannah River Site's goal of bringing small modular reactors to South Carolina has taken a significant blow now that a final award to fund the reactors is going toward a project based in Oregon.
The Department of Energy announced it was giving the award to NuScale Power LLC in a release dated Dec. 12. Details must still be worked out, but funding will come from the $452 million Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support program.
Small modular reactors – or SMRs – are defined as reactors with electricity outputs of less than 300 megawatts. They are said to allow for less on-site construction and increased containment efficiency.
“Small modular reactors represent a new generation of safe, reliable, low-carbon nuclear energy technology and provide a strong opportunity for America to lead this emerging global industry,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in an online news release. “New technologies like small modular reactors will help ensure our continued leadership in the safe, secure and efficient use of nuclear power worldwide.”
SRS was vying for the last of three awards to bring the reactors to the Site. Dating back to March 2012, the Site expressed interest in the reactors by announcing partnerships with NuScale and others to bring SMRs on board.
NuScale's Chief Commercial Officer Mike McGough said there is no timetable for where and when it will begin working with companies; however, he believes working with SRS is still a possibility.
“This award won't have any effect on a potential partnership with SRS. That possibility is still valid and is something we may look into,” McGough said.
The announcement came about a week after Gov. Nikki Haley spoke with DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz during a visit to Washington, D.C. The two spoke about bringing the reactors to SRS.
Site Manager David Moody has been one of many advocating for the use of the reactors. During a Citizens Advisory Board meeting last month, Moody spoke briefly about bringing them to SRS.
“SRS really should be the site to look for SMRs. All of the expertise required to bring them in and develop them is right here at SRS,” Moody said.
While the upcoming SMR project will be based in Oregon, the Department of Energy reported the project will support additional suppliers and operations in other states, including the Fluor Company in South Carolina.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.