The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has awarded grants to Rockville, Md.–based X-energy—developer of the Xe-100 small modular reactor—and Frostburg State University for a collaborative study to determine the potential for siting an SMR at a state coal site. A joint analysis of the study’s findings is to be delivered to MEA later this year.
According to a June 14 MEA press release, repurposing a fossil-fuel site with an SMR could reduce stranded asset costs, allow for well-paying jobs to remain in the region, provide business opportunities for the manufacturing and construction sector during the construction and maintenance phases, and provide for more flexible, lower-cost electricity to the state’s residential and business consumers.
What they’re saying: “We are experiencing a transition in our energy systems and must look for new opportunities and impactful approaches to provide reliable 24/7 power generation within our rapidly changing energy landscape,” said Mary Beth Tung, director of MEA. “This is the right set of circumstances for Maryland to explore new ways to advance clean energy goals, while staying at the forefront of technological advancements. With this partnership in place, I am confident we will be able to determine whether or not the deployment of this advanced zero-carbon energy in the state makes sense and how best to proceed if a positive determination is made.”
Clay Sell, X-energy’s chief executive officer, said, “Next-generation nuclear energy offers Marylanders an opportunity to create a more resilient grid for the future while drastically lowering costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The energy transition can and should build on the experience and expertise of the men and women currently powering communities across Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic. This partnership will evaluate how nuclear energy can enable clean energy goals and maintain jobs and economic security in energy-centered communities across the state.”
The motivation: Earlier this year, an ambitious piece of environmental legislation, the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, became law in Maryland after Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who had opposed the bill over concerns that it would raise the state’s energy costs, declined to take action against it. (The bill had been passed in the Democrat-controlled state legislature with veto-proof majorities.) The act calls for a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (from a 2006 baseline) by 2031 and a net-zero economy by 2045.