Advanced SMRs range in size up to 300 megawatts electrical (MWe), employ modular construction techniques, ship major components from factory fabrication locations to the plant site by rail or truck, and include designs that simplify plant site activities required for plant assembly.
Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are a key part of the Department’s goal to develop safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power options. The advanced SMRs currently under development in the U.S. represent a variety of sizes, technology options, and deployment scenarios. These advanced reactors, envisioned to vary in size from a couple megawatts up to hundreds of megawatts, can be used for power generation, process heat, desalination, or other industrial uses. SMRs can employ light water as a coolant or other non-light water coolants such as a gas, liquid metal, or molten salt.
Advanced SMRs offer many advantages, such as relatively small size, reduced capital investment, ability to be sited in locations not possible for larger nuclear plants, and provisions for incremental power additions. SMRs also offer distinct safeguards, security and nonproliferation advantages.
The Department has long recognized the transformational value that advanced SMRs can provide to the Nation’s economic, energy security, and environmental outlook. Accordingly, the Department has provided substantial support to the development of light water-cooled SMRs, which are under licensing review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and will likely be deployed in the next 10-15 years. The Department is also interested in the development of SMRs that use non-traditional coolants such as liquid metals, salts, and helium because of the safety, operational, and economic benefits they offer.
U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development
The Department recently issued a multi-year cost-shared funding opportunity to support innovative, domestic nuclear industry-driven concepts that have high potential to improve the overall economic outlook for nuclear power in the United States. This funding opportunity will enable the development of existing, new, and next-generation reactor designs, including SMR technologies.
The scope of the funding opportunity is very broad and solicits activities involved in finalizing the most mature SMR designs; developing manufacturing capabilities and techniques to improve cost and efficiency of nuclear builds; developing plant structures, systems, components, and control systems; addressing regulatory issues; and other technical needs identified by industry. The funding opportunity will provide awards sized and tailored to address a range of technical and regulatory issues impeding the progress of advanced reactor development.
Information on the FOA and an upcoming informational webinar may be found here.
Advanced SMR Licensing Technical Support Program
Initiated in FY2012, the SMR Licensing Technical Support (LTS) Program works with industry partners, research institutions, the national laboratories, and academia to accelerate the certification, licensing, and siting of domestic advanced SMR designs and to reduce economic, technical, and regulatory barriers to their deployment. FY2017 was the last year of planned funding for this successful program but activities will be completed over the next several years as certification and licensing efforts are completed.
The U.S. Department of Energy is supporting the development and deployment of advanced SMRs to help meet the nation’s economic, environmental and energy security needs. The Office of Nuclear Energy commissioned three reports in 2017-2018 that examine potential financing opportunities and structures, resiliency credits, and financial incentives for SMRs to help better understand the feasibility of deploying this first-of-a-kind technology in the United States.