2024: The State of Advanced Reactors

January 19, 2024, 3:07PMNuclear NewsMatt Wald

Designs for high-tech products, and the start-ups that offer them, will always outnumber the commercial successes. Ditto: many more power plants are proposed than actually get built, no matter what the technology.

This is an axiom of free-market economies, but in early November 2023 it became painfully obvious in the advanced reactor field. NuScale Power, the only advanced reactor that has made it through the licensing gauntlet, acknowledged that the consortium of utilities that was its intended launch customer had failed to put together a feasible package.

2023 in Review: January–March

January 10, 2024, 9:32AMNuclear News

Another calendar year has passed. Before heading too far into 2024, let’s look back at what happened in 2023 in the nuclear community. In today's post, compiled from Nuclear News and Nuclear Newswire are what we feel are the top nuclear news stories from January through March 2023.

Stay tuned for the top stories from the rest of the past year.

Texas kicks off effort to make state a leader in new nuclear

October 3, 2023, 12:04PMNuclear News
PUCT commissioner Jimmy Glotfelty leads the discussion at the Texas Advanced Nuclear Reactor Working Group’s first public meeting, on September 28. (Image: PUCT)

The Texas Advanced Nuclear Reactor Working Group—formed recently by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) at the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott—hosted its first public meeting last Thursday to discuss the group’s organizational structure and outline a plan to turn Texas into a national leader in the use of advanced nuclear energy.

Texas governor touts nuclear at UT fireside chat

August 23, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (right) talks nuclear energy at UT-Austin on August 16. With Abbott are X-energy chief executive officer Clay Sell (left) and Dow chair and CEO Jim Fitterling. (Photo: Office of the Texas Governor)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sat down with X-energy chief executive officer Clay Sell and Dow chair and CEO Jim Fitterling last week for a “fireside chat” at the University of Texas–Austin on the role of nuclear energy and technology in the state.

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.

Site for Dow, X-energy SMR project selected

May 15, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A digital rendering of the Dow/X-energy Xe-100 plant in Texas. (Image: X-energy)

Dow and X-energy have announced the location of their Xe-100 small modular reactor deployment project: Dow’s UCC Seadrift Operations manufacturing site in Texas. According to a May 11 joint news release, the SMR plant will provide the Seadrift site with power and heat as the site’s existing energy and steam assets near the end of their operational lives.

KAERI, Alberta to consider SMRs for province

April 21, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Joo Han-Gyu, KAERI president, on teleconference with Albertan ministers Brian Jean and Rajan Sawhney during the signing of the MOU. (Photo: KAERI)

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and the government of Alberta have agreed on a comprehensive cooperation framework to explore the viability of using small modular reactors to help decarbonize the province—Canada’s biggest energy producer and its biggest polluter. The announcement comes the same week that Alberta’s United Conservative Party government released a climate plan aimed at reaching net zero by 2050.

First Xe-100 plant support center to open this year

March 13, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

X-energy, the Rockville, Md.–based small modular reactor developer, has announced its plan to open the first Xe-100 reactor fleet management, monitoring, and training facility—the Plant Support Center–East (PCSE)—in the fourth quarter of this year.

X-energy, Dow agree to embed an Xe-100 demo at a Gulf Coast industrial facility

March 1, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of an Xe-100 plant. (Image: X-energy)

Dow and X-energy announced today that they have signed a joint development agreement (JDA) to demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced nuclear reactor at an industrial site in North America within a decade. As part of the agreement, Dow is now a subawardee under X-energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Energy.

X-energy, Alberta explore opportunities to support SMR projects

February 7, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

X-energy Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. mall modular reactor and fuel technology company X-energy, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Invest Alberta Corporation (IAC) to develop economic opportunities in support of the potential deployment of the Xe-100 SMR in the western Canadian province. (Alberta is one of four provinces behind last year’s A Strategic Plan for the Deployment of SMRs—a document that maps the path to capitalizing on the benefits of advanced reactor deployment.)

Two reports agree: Diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles can succeed

November 23, 2022, 6:39AMNuclear News

Advanced reactors and small modular reactors with strikingly different coolants and sizes offer an array of different benefits, but when it comes to fuel cycle issues, including spent fuel and waste, they have a lot in common with conventional light water reactors. Two reports released within the last week—a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus committee report two years in the making and a Department of Energy study released by Argonne National Laboratory—address the timely topic of advanced reactor fuel cycle issues. While the NASEM committee ventured to define research and infrastructure needs to support the entire nuclear power fuel cycle, inclusive of new technologies, for decades to come, the DOE report compares the front- and back-end fuel cycle metrics of three reactor designs (from NuScale Power, TerraPower, and X-energy) that have been selected for DOE cost-share–funded demonstrations within this decade. Together, these reports provide assurance that the fuel cycle needs of a fleet of new reactors can be met and point to near-term research and planning needs.

OPG, ČEZ to work together on SMR deployment

October 14, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left: Czech Republic deputy minister of industry and trade Petr Třešňák, ČEZ’s Tomáš Pleskač, OPG’s Ken Hartwick, Ontario minister of energy Todd Smith, and Canadian ambassador to the Czech Republic Ayesha Patricia Rekhi. (Photo: CNW Group/Ontario Power Generation)

Canada’s Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Czech Republic–based ČEZ have agreed to collaborate on nuclear technology deployment, including small modular reactors, under a memorandum of understanding signed yesterday in Prague.

Ontario’s largest electricity generator and the European energy giant have both pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Curtiss-Wright, X-energy team up to advance Xe-100 deployment

September 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Curtiss-Wright Corporation and small modular reactor developer X-energy have announced the signing of a preferred strategic supplier agreement to advance the design and deployment of the latter’s Xe-100 SMR.

X-energy, DOW to collaborate on SMR deployment

August 9, 2022, 12:27PMNuclear News

Small modular reactor developer X-energy and materials science giant Dow this morning announced the signing of a letter of intent aimed at deploying X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor technology at one of Dow’s U.S. Gulf Coast facilities. The companies expect the SMR plant, which would provide power and process heat to the Dow facility, to be operational by approximately 2030.

Dow is the first manufacturer to declare its intention to develop SMR technology options and intends to take a minority equity stake in X-energy, according to the announcement.

News of the collaboration broke at the American Nuclear Society’s Utility Working Conference and Vendor Technology Expo, being held through August 10 at Marco Island, Fla.

X-energy picks constructor collaborators

July 22, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear News

Rockville, Md.–based X-energy announced yesterday that it has selected Zachry Group and a combined team from Burns & McDonnell and Day & Zimmermann to work with the company on the next phases of design and deployment for its Xe-100 small modular reactor fleet.

OPG, X-energy seek industrial sites for the Xe-100 to supply clean power and heat

July 12, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and X-energy will look for opportunities to deploy the Xe-100 high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor at industrial sites in Ontario and identify further potential end users and sites throughout Canada under an agreement announced today.

X-energy partners with Maryland for coal-to-nuclear study

June 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

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.

Cavendish Nuclear, X-energy to collaborate on HTGR deployment in U.K.

May 13, 2022, 9:34AMNuclear News

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

U.K. nuclear services company Cavendish Nuclear has signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. reactor and fuel-design engineering firm X-energy to act as its deployment partner for high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) in the United Kingdom.

Headquartered in Rockville, Md., X-energy is the developer of the Xe-100, an 80-MWe reactor with a modular design permitting it to be scaled into a “four-pack” 320-MWe power plant. As a pebble bed HTGR, the Xe-100 would use TRISO particles encased in graphite pebbles as the fuel and helium as the coolant.

According to a May 11 joint statement from the companies, development and deployment of HTGRs in the United Kingdom would support an increase in the nation’s energy security, contribute toward the government’s net-zero-by-2050 commitment, and create considerable opportunities for the U.K. nuclear supply chain.