Department of Energy

Expanding Options for Nuclear Power

April 15, 2013

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The development of clean, affordable nuclear power options is a key element of the Energy Department's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap. As a part of this strategy, a high priority of the Department has been to help accelerate the timelines for the commercialization and deployment of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies through the SMR Licensing Technical Support program. | Photo by the Energy Department.

The development of clean, affordable nuclear power options is a key element of the Energy Department's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap. As a part of this strategy, a high priority of the Department has been to help accelerate the timelines for the commercialization and deployment of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies through the SMR Licensing Technical Support program. | Photo by the Energy Department.

Nuclear energy continues to be a vital part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy – helping to advance a sustainable, clean energy future. In the United States, nuclear power provides about 20 percent of our total electricity and more than 60 percent of our carbon-free electricity. At the Energy Department, we are working with other federal agencies, U.S. businesses and universities to support safe, efficient technologies that will revitalize our domestic nuclear industry.

For example, I recently had the opportunity to tour B&W’s mPower small modular reactor (SMR) Integrated System Test facility in Lynchburg, Virginia. While there, I saw the work B&W has done to test and evaluate the mPower SMR’s performance and to help create operating and training procedures to assure that the mPower design can operate safely and efficiently.

The Energy Department and B&W recently finalized a cost-shared cooperative agreement to support first-of-its-kind engineering, design certification and licensing for the mPower SMR as part of its SMR Licensing Technical Support program. With a $150 million government investment, matched by at least 50 percent from the private sector, this project will help lay the groundwork for a strong domestic SMR industry that can expand the options for nuclear power in the U.S. and around the world. The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to deploy the first 180 megawatt mPower small modular reactor for commercial operation at its Clinch River site in Roane County, Tennessee, by 2022, with as many as four mPower units ultimately being deployed at that site.

The investment made today builds upon the Department’s broader efforts to promote a sustainable nuclear industry in the U.S., including cultivating the next generation of scientists and engineers and solving common challenges across the industry.