X-energy, Energy Northwest team for multiple SMR deployments

July 20, 2023, 9:43AMNuclear News

Small modular reactor firm X-energy and Energy Northwest, owner and operator of the Columbia nuclear power plant in Richland, Wash., announced yesterday the signing of a joint development agreement (JDA) for up to 12 Xe-100 SMRs in central Washington, capable of generating up to a total of 960 MWe.

The JDA defines and details the scope, location, and schedule under which the commercial development of the project will move forward, the companies said, adding that they will also work together to determine the best approaches to licensing and regulatory matters, as well as the project delivery model. Currently, the Xe-100 project is expected to be developed at a site adjacent to the Columbia facility, with the first module coming on line by 2030.

Signers’ language: “Energy Northwest’s mission is to provide the region with clean, reliable, and affordable electricity, and X-energy’s innovative advanced reactor technology will be a valuable addition to our existing portfolio of carbon-free electric generating resources,” stated Bob Schuetz, chief executive officer of Energy Northwest. “As the Northwest region of the United States pursues a future clean energy grid, it is clear it will need new sources of dependable, carbon-free power. X-energy’s Xe-100 advanced reactor technology possesses many attributes ideally suited to a carbon-constrained electric system, and this agreement reflects our determination to deliver the technologies to meet growing clean energy needs.”

J. Clay Sell, X-energy CEO, said that his company “is eager to bring the insights and learnings from our ARDP [Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program] experience to successfully deliver an Xe-100 nuclear power plant in central Washington.” He added, “Energy Northwest’s experience as a leading nuclear operator in the region uniquely positions it to showcase the benefits and scalability of advanced nuclear.”

A cross-section view of X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor. (Image: X-energy).

The tech: The Xe-100 unit is an 80-MWe high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor that can be scaled into a four-pack 320-MWe power plant. As a pebble bed HTGR, it would use TRISO particles encased in graphite pebbles as fuel and helium as coolant. Capable of providing high-temperature steam at 565°C as well as electricity, the Xe-100 could enable decarbonization of industrial end-use applications, including hydrogen generation, oil sands operations, mining applications, and other industrial processes. According to X-energy, the modular reactor design is “road-shippable and intended to drive scalability, accelerate construction timelines, and create more predictable and manageable construction costs.”

Background: The Department of Energy selected X-energy and TerraPower in October 2020 as the first recipients of cost-shared ARDP funding to develop, license, build, and demonstrate an operational advanced reactor by the end of the decade.

In April 2021, X-energy, Energy Northwest, and the Grant County (Washington) Public Utility District signed a TRi Energy Partnership memorandum of understanding to support the development and demonstration of the Xe-100.

X-energy announced in March of this year that it had signed a JDA with Dow to demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced reactor at an industrial site in North America within a decade. And in May, Dow’s UCC Seadrift Operations manufacturing site in Texas was selected.

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