Westinghouse Electric wants the UK to partner in the deployment of its small modular reactor (SMR) technology.
The Toshiba Corp. group on Oct. 20 submitted an unsolicited proposal that outlines a ““shared design and development model” under which Westinghouse would contribute its small modular reactor conceptual design and then partner with UK government and industry to complete, license, and deploy the design.
Westinghouse launched its 225-MW integral pressurized water reactor in February 2011. But after the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) chose to invest federal funds in NuScale Power instead of Westinghouse and other contenders, the company in January 2014 scaled back its SMR program in the U.S. after it admitted that it was unable to find any customers for its SMR, and that it could not justify the economics of its SMR without government subsidies.
In the UK, meanwhile, interest in SMRs is growing. A parliamentary committee in December 2014 recommended that the government should encourage the development and deployment of SMRs, suggesting they could play a key role in delivering low-carbon energy at lower upfront capital costs compared to large conventional nuclear reactors. “That said, the commercial viability of SMRs remains unclear,” said the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change in its report.
And Westinghouse isn’t alone in soliciting partners for its SMR. On Oct. 5, Fluor Corp.—and DOE-backed NuScale Power published a prospectus highlighting the opportunity that exists in the UK market. NuScale plans to submit its technology for design certification in the U.S. in 2016 and says it is on track to deploy the first SMR for a customer in Idaho by 2023.
—Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)