Chubu Electric Power Company, owner and operator of the three-unit Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture, has entered into an agreement to acquire issued shares in U.S. small modular reactor firm NuScale Power from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), the utility announced on September 7. (JBIC bills itself as a government-owned, policy-based financial institution that prioritizes investment in businesses that will protect the global environment.)
“Through our investment in NuScale, we aim to earn revenue from NuScale’s future business expansion,” explained Hiroki Sato, chief executive officer of Chubu’s global business division. “In addition, it is important to secure all options for the sustainable use of nuclear power generation, which is indispensable for realizing a decarbonized society, and we will continue to promote social implementation of innovative technologies to enhance our corporate value.”
According to a Reuters report, when queried about potential deployment of SMRs in Japan, Sato stated, “It’s difficult to deploy them in Japan anytime soon . . . but we have high expectations for the future development of next-generation reactors in Japan.”
While the size of the stake in NuScale was not disclosed in the Chubu announcement, Sato told Reuters that his company plans to take “not more than a majority of the JBIC’s holdings.” He added that the acquisition is subject to approval by U.S. authorities, which is expected to take about a month.
Background: In 2021, Japanese companies JGC Corp. and IHI Corp. secured significant investments in NuScale, forming Japan NuScale Innovation LLC as the conduit for those investments. In 2022, JBIC joined JNI with an investment of $110 million through a purchase of equity from Fluor Corporation, NuScale’s majority owner.
In case you missed it: NuScale announced on August 1 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for formal review the company’s standard design approval (SDA) application for its updated SMR design. The updated design—which is based on a VOYGR-6 (six-module) configuration powered by an uprated 77-MWe (250 MWt) power module—will “support a wider range of customers seeking clean energy through small modular nuclear reactors,” according to NuScale. (The company’s original 50-MWe module design, based on a 12-module VOYGR plant, became the first SMR design to receive NRC approval in August 2020.)