U.S. firms expand collaboration with Korea on advanced reactors

April 27, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

NuScale Power and TerraPower both signed agreements earlier this week with South Korean entities to support development of the American firms’ respective reactor technologies.

NuScale announced on April 25 the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Doosan Enerbility and the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) that outlines areas of cooperation—such as marketing, technical support, and further development of a global supply chain—and commits NuScale and Doosan to bolstering an already-existing partnership to deploy NuScale’s VOYGR small modular reactor plants globally. Specifically, Doosan has committed to helping establish a U.S.-based supply chain for NuScale Power Module production through capacity expansion and manufacturing technology advancement, according to NuScale.

The company’s flagship VOYGR-12 plant would consist of 12 77-MWe modules, for a total capacity of 924 MWe. Other VOYGR facilities in development at NuScale include the VOYGR-6 and VOYGR-4, rated at 462 MWe and 308 MWe, respectively.

Late last year, NuScale placed the first upper reactor pressure vessel long-lead material production order with Doosan for the NuScale Power Module. And just last month, the SMR developer inked a financial cooperation MOU with KEXIM in support of VOYGR plant deployment. (KEXIM is the official export credit agency of South Korea.)

“Today’s news underscores how our SMRs fill a unique global need: providing flexible, reliable, and carbon-free energy while driving economic activity in manufacturing and supply chain development,” said John Hopkins, NuScale’s president and chief executive officer. “With our Korean partners and their technical expertise, we are well-positioned to meet this ambitious goal. The momentum towards creating a domestic and global supply chain to deploy our SMR technology is accelerating.”

Meanwhile: Also on April 25, TerraPower executives joined corporate leaders from SK and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) to sign a collaboration agreement supporting the demonstration and commercialization of the Natrium reactor and integrated energy system.

TerraPower’s demonstration plant, slated for Kemmerer, Wyo., is intended to validate the design, construction, and operational features of its Natrium technology, developed in collaboration with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. The plant will feature a 345-MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt–based energy storage system designed to boost the unit’s output to 500 MW of power when necessary to integrate with variable renewable energy sources.

“These partnerships are critical for the first Natrium reactor and the many additional facilities we plan to construct in the U.S. and globally,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower’s president, at a signing ceremony sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. “We already have a strong partner in SK and look forward to adding the recognized global expertise of KHNP as a long-term partner to help realize the benefits of advanced nuclear energy.”

SK Inc. and SK Innovation, collectively known as SK, invested $250 million in TerraPower last fall during an equity raise of $830 million, the largest private raise among advanced nuclear companies to date. According to TerraPower, the addition of KHNP further strengthens the team collaborating to bring the Natrium reactor to market.

“The world is searching for legitimate options to address the effects of climate change,” Levesque noted. “Advanced nuclear, and specifically the Natrium reactor design, is poised to be a significant solution for our future energy needs. That is why leading companies like SK and KHNP are getting proactively involved in supporting this technology.”

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