Three Memorandums of Agreement (MOA) between the U.S. government entities and private companies signed on Friday will seek to leverage Savannah River’s land assets and energy facilities near Aiken, S.C., to support potential private sector development, testing, and licensing of prototype small modular reactor (SMR) technologies.

The Energy Department, Savannah River Site, and Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) entered into three separate agreements with Hyperion Power Generation; SMR, a subsidiary of Holtec International; and NuScale Power. The agreements are expected to help the private companies obtain information on potential SMR reactor siting at Savannah River and provide a framework for developing land use and site services agreements to further these efforts.

The Savannah River site was a “natural fit” for advancing SMR technology because of its unique combination of nuclear knowledge, laboratory expertise, and infrastructure,  said Dr. Dave Moody, DOE-SR Manager. “We are about reinvigorating SRS assets to impact national needs and influence new missions for the future of the Savannah River Site.”

By strengthening information sharing and access to site facilities and technical expertise, these MOAs would “help break down engineering and testing barriers to advanced nuclear reactor research and development while providing these nuclear companies with the resources to support effective deployment plans.”

In a statement on Friday, the Department of Energy said it was “committed to restarting the nation’s nuclear industry and advancing the next generation of these technologies.” The DOE had earlier this Month announced $10 million in new research funds to solve common challenges across the nuclear industry and improve reactor safety performance and cost competitiveness, it said.

The DOE also strongly backs the Vogtle project, where the Southern Company and Georgia Power are building two new nuclear reactors, the release said. Southern Co. in 2010 signed a conditional commitment with the DOE for $8 billion in loan guarantees to support that project. The DOE also said it had provided more than $200 million through a cost-share agreement to support the licensing reviews for Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design certification.

Efforts were under way to promote a stronger nuclear workforce. The DOE said it had invested $170 million in research grants at more than 70 universities, supporting research and development into a full spectrum of nuclear technologies.

Sources: POWERnews, DOE