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First Advanced Small Nuclear Reactor Design in U.S. Is Approved

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the first small modular reactor design in the U.S., a milestone that could change the future of American power generation, according to POLITICO.

  • The NRC, which issued the approval Friday, will certify a design submitted in 2016 by small modular reactor designer (SMR) NuScale Power.

Realizing a nuclear dream: The approval “had seemed like a pipe dream for many, with industry and nuclear advocates complaining for years that the NRC licensing process is too burdensome and wasn’t making enough progress on advanced reactors.”

Non-intermittent source needed: A carbon-free power grid requires a clean, constant energy source, such as advanced nuclear, green hydrogen or natural gas used in conjunction with carbon capture to supplement “largely weather-dependent resources like wind and solar.”

Nuclear fits the bill: SMRs are the way forward, NuScale spokesperson Diane Hughes told POLITICO. 

  • “When considering the challenges our world faces to address climate change and energy insecurity, NuScale’s SMRs present a timely, carbon-free energy solution for customers and applications around the world and we are pleased with the NRC’s continued acknowledgment of our inherent safety design.”

The NAM’s take on what’s next: “As manufacturers lead in driving the innovations that will make a clean-energy future possible, the development and deployment of next-generation nuclear reactors is vital in the quest to achieving net-zero carbon emissions,” said  NAM Vice President of Energy and Resources Policy Rachel Jones. “We have been urging the Department of Energy to also focus on developing the domestic nuclear-fuel supply chain essential to powering these new reactors.”

  • “These inherently safer technologies rely on advanced nuclear fuel designs, with almost all of them requiring High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) as feedstock for the fuel.”
  • “Positive steps have been taken, including the ongoing HALEU enrichment demonstration program in Piketon, Ohio and further timely action will help promote the deployment of advanced reactors in a constrained world energy market.”
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