Corvallis company seeks up to $226 million in matching funds to advance reactor design
NuScale Power is taking another bite at the federal apple.
The Corvallis company is one of several commercial ventures attempting to develop small modular reactors or SMRs, a new class of nuclear power plant touted as safer, cheaper and easier to build than conventional nukes.
In November, NuScale lost out to rival Babcock & Wilcox in the first round of matching funds from a $452 million Department of Energy pool intended to accelerate SMR development.
On Wednesday, the company announced it had filed a letter of intent with the DOE to apply for federal support under a second round of funding worth up to $226 million.
Mike McGough, the company’s chief commercial officer, said NuScale is asking for the full amount.
“If we had our druthers, it would be that they would select one additional awardee under this program, and that awardee would be us.”
The money, which the company would have to match dollar for dollar, would go a long way toward getting NuScale to its goal of achieving design certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. McGough estimated the total cost of that effort at about $1 billion. Investment in the company to date totals about $130 million.
The lion’s share of that backing comes from Fluor Corp., a global heavy construction firm. But a substantial grant from the DOE would be seen as a stamp of approval that could help NuScale attract additional investment from other big players in the nuclear power industry.
“Winning this competition (would be) an indication that the Department of Energy sort of validates the technology,” McGough said.
Based on a design developed at Oregon State University, NuScale’s reactor would generate up to 45 megawatts of electricity. The self-contained reactor modules are designed to be factory-built, then transported to the plant site.
They could be installed in arrays of up to 12 units with a total generating capacity of 540 megawatts, about half the output of a conventional reactor. The NuScale design relies on natural convection currents rather than complicated electric pumps to circulate cooling water around the radioactive core.
The rapidly growing company has about 160 direct employees, most of them in Corvallis, and about 100 contract workers.
McGough said NuScale hopes to submit its completed design certification application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the second half of 2015. If the design is approved, the first NuScale reactors could be up and running by 2023 or so.