The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently announced that it will begin reviewing most of the standard design approval (SDA) application for NuScale Power’s uprated small modular reactor technology, with the remainder of the review on hold until the company provides additional details on a key safety topic.
According to the NRC, portions of NuScale’s application discussing steam generator safety performance under certain conditions require more information.
The Portland, Ore.–based SMR developer submitted its SDA application in stages in November and December of last year for a VOYGR-6 plant, which would house six 77-MWe modules.
An SDA is a determination by NRC staff that a reactor design meets the agency’s applicable design requirements. Companies can reference a standard design approval when applying for a license to build and operate a reactor in the United States.
Context: The firm’s original 50-MWe module design, based on a 12-module VOYGR plant, became the first SMR design to receive NRC approval when in August 2020 the agency announced it had issued a final safety evaluation report on the technology, completing the technical review and approval process. (The NuScale Power Module remains the only SMR design approved by the commission.)
Two years later, in July 2022, the NRC voted unanimously to approve the design certification of the 50-MWe module, making it just the seventh reactor design to be thus certified. Previous designs passing NRC certification muster include General Electric’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor; Westinghouse Electric’s System 80+, AP600, and AP1000; GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor; and Korea Electric Power Corporation’s APR1400.
What they’re saying: “The commencement of the NRC’s review brings us closer to another important regulatory milestone and the commercialization our SMR technology, which will provide affordable, carbon-free power to our customers,” stated John Hopkins, NuScale’s president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to working alongside the NRC toward the achievement of our second design approval.”
In case you missed it: South Korea’s export-import bank announced on March 16 that it has signed a financial cooperation memorandum of understanding with NuScale. (In May of last year, the American firm signed an MOU with three South Korean companies—Doosan Enerbility Company, GS Energy Corporation, and Samsung C&T Corporation—to explore the deployment of NuScale’s VOYGR power plants in Asia.)
Following the signing, NuScale’s Hopkins said, “The support of the Korea Eximbank is a significant step forward as we work to advance clean, affordable nuclear power globally. Korea Eximbank’s support, along with the continued investment and commitment from our South Korean partners, will advance our efforts to bring numerous economic and environmental benefits, especially as the global community transitions to reliable, clean energy over the next decade.”