US-based NuScale, which has developed a modular, light-water SMR, said the “teaming agreement” builds upon an intergovernmental agreement signed by the US Department of Energy and the Romanian energy ministry. In 2019, NuScale and Nuclearelectrica signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate the development, licensing and construction of a NuScale SMR in Romania.
The White House had said earlier in a fact sheet on president Joe Biden’s climate plans that the partnership will position US technology to lead in the global race for SMR deployment.
NuScale said the partnership comes at a pivotal time as senior government policymakers from around the world discuss the urgency of accelerating the clean energy transition. NuScale’s SMRs can support international climate goals to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change while strengthening global prosperity, the company said.
NuScale’s SMR design features a fully factory-fabricated module capable of generating 77 MW of electricity using a smaller version of larger, pressurised water reactor technology. The scalable design – power plants can house up to 12 individual power modules – offers the benefits of carbon-free energy and reduces the financial commitments associated with gigawatt-sized nuclear facilities, NuScale said. The company said its SMR can produce emissions-free electricity and can decarbonise the production of hydrogen and clean water.
NuScale’s majority shareholder is Fluor Corporation. The companies have signed a number of agreements for potential SMR deployment, most recently a memorandum of understanding with Bulgarian Energy Holding related to the potential construction of NuScale SMR units at coal sites in Bulgaria.
NuScale also signed a three-way memorandum of understanding with Poland-based copper and silver giant KGHM and consultancy PBE Molecule to explore the deployment of NuScale’s SMRs technology to repurpose or replace existing coal-fired power plants and provide electricity and heat for KGHM’s industrial processes in Poland.
NuScale told NucNet that a NuScale plant is similar in power output to an existing coal plant and can fit on the same site and re-use the existing transmission infrastructure, making it an ideal solution for coal plant repurposing.
In August 2020, the NuScale SMR became the first and so far only SMR to receive design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, In July 2021, the NRC published the proposed rule that would certify the NuScale design – a crucial step towards the construction and deployment of this SMR technology.
NuScale has said is planning to commercialise its SMR technology by the end of this decade. NuScale and Fluor are working for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (Uamps) to bring what could be the world’s first SMR project to commercialisation.
Uamps is scheduled to submit a construction licence application in 2023, and is aiming to start commercial operation of the first module in 2029.
Romania’s energy minister said recently that decarbonisation without nuclear energy is impossible which is why Budapest is discussing the possibility of building two new nuclear reactors at the Cernavodă nuclear station with potential partners from the US, Canada and France.
Virgil Popescu also said Romania would also be paying “great attention” to the potential deployment of a new generation of SMRs.
Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis said Bucharest was “laying the necessary foundations” for cooperation for a new stage of development of the civil nuclear sector and “things are starting to move in the right direction”.
In December 2020, Romania and the US signed an agreement regarding potential cooperation on nuclear projects at Cernavodă.
Cernavodă has two commercially operational Candu 6 pressurised heavy water reactors supplied by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and built under the supervision of a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo.