Friday, November 23, 2012

Pushing Small Scale Nukes


Administration awards grant to speed sales of small nuclear reactors By Zack Colman - 11/20/12 05:32 PM ET

[Excerpted] The Energy Department selected a grant recipient Tuesday for a class of small nuclear reactors that top U.S. energy officials say could revitalize the domestic industry.
Babcock & Wilcox landed part of a $452 million Energy grant that aims to speed commercialization of smaller, less capital-intensive nuclear reactors.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based company will match the federal funds. The Tennessee Valley Authority and Bechtel, San Francisco-based construction and engineering firm also will partner in the public-private licensing agreement.

“The Obama administration continues to believe that low-carbon nuclear energy has an important role to play in America’s energy future. Restarting the nation’s nuclear industry and advancing small modular reactor technologies will help create new jobs and export opportunities for American workers and businesses, and ensure we continue to take an all-of-the-above approach to American energy production,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a Tuesday statement.

The Energy Department still has to negotiate the terms and total amount of the five-year cost-share deal, a spokesman told The Hill. It will use remaining program funds to finance other reactor designs, the Energy official said.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane praised the program last month. She said the first design certification applications for the reactors could come next year with the Energy program’s aid. Macfarlane said Energy’s investment could help domestic firms grab an early share of the international market for the smaller — and potentially cheaper — reactors.

The reactors range between 100 megawatts and 300 megawatts of electric generating capacity. Most are designed to operate underground, potentially minimizing damage from a spill.
Industry group the Nuclear Energy Institute lauded Energy for moving forward with the grant.

"Our nation's energy future just became considerably brighter. The Department of Energy's important action to advance the development of this innovative reactor design supports the growth of clean-energy sources and the commercialization of advanced energy technologies that can be used domestically and sold overseas,” Marvin Fertel, the group’s president and CEO, said in a Tuesday statement.

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