NuScale, DOE Complete Agreement for $217M SMR Development Funds

[Corrected (May 30): See note below]

A cooperative agreement finalized by NuScale Power and the Department of Energy (DOE) on Wednesday means the small modular reactor (SMR) developer will receive up to $217 million in matching funds over a five-year-period to perform engineering and testing necessary for design certification. 

Last December, the Portland, Ore.–based company was the sole winner of the DOE’s second funding opportunity to help design, certify, and commercialize SMRs in the U.S. The funds are expected to help NuScale meet requirements and apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for design certification for its modular 45-MW SMR design in the second half of 2016. That could allow NuScale to achieve commercial operation of its first planned project by 2023 with partners Energy NorthWest and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, the company said.

The DOE’s first cost-share funding award to accelerate commercialization of an SMR design that targets a 2022 deployment date went to Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) for its mPower SMR technology.

In mid-April, however, B&W announced plans to slow mPower’s development pace and to restructure its mPower program to “focus on technology development.”  The company cited an inability to secure significant additional investors or customer engineering, procurement, and construction contracts to provide necessary financial support to deploy and develop mPower reactors.

Earlier this month, B&W revealed flat operating losses of $26.7 million in the first quarter of 2014 in the mPower segment, which compares to a $26.9 million loss in the first quarter of 2013. The company received a $17.1 million cost-sharing award from the DOE under a cooperative agreement.

B&W President and CEO E. James Ferland said the company would reduce mPower spending to an annual rate of about $15 million by July 1, 2014. He also said that B&W is working with the DOE and other stakeholders “to confirm the best path forward for this technology.” Those negotiations are expected to take about two months to complete.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

CORRECTION (May 30): The finalized cooperative agreement between NuScale and the DOE means NuScale will receive up to $217 million in matching funds over a five-year period—not $271 million as previously reported. POWERnews regrets the error.