The state of Maryland's Energy Administration (MEA) has announced a study initiative to determine the potential for siting an Advanced Small Modular Reactor (SMR) in the state partnering X-energy and Frostburg State University (FSU), both based in Maryland, to collaborate on the project.
"Depending on these findings, this research will provide information on available clean energy opportunities to the state," the MEA said.
The study will evaluate the possibility of converting a coal burning plant into a facility housing X-Energy's SMR units.
"This is only the first step in a robust feasibility process for siting considerations. During this stage an economic and business study will be conducted and FSU will generate an economic impact analysis," MEA said.
The agency cited economic and environmental benefits. "The potential for Maryland to house a new SMR brings a variety of benefits including firm, carbon-free generation that includes a host of advanced safety features including passive cooling systems and a pebble bed reactor design. Broadly, the benefits to state energy generation and business are multiple. The potential use of an SMR deployment to repurpose existing electricity generation assets and meet growing generating needs could reduce stranded asset costs, allow for well-paying jobs to remain in the region, provide business opportunities for the manufacturing and construction sector during the construction and maintenance phases, and provide for more flexible, lower-cost electricity to the state’s residential and business consumers."
“We are experiencing a transition in our energy systems and must look for new opportunities and impactful approaches to provide reliable 24/7 power generation within our rapidly changing energy landscape,” said Dr. Mary Beth Tung, Director of MEA. “This is the right set of circumstances for Maryland to explore new ways to advance clean energy goals, while staying at the forefront of technological advancements. With this partnership in place, I am confident we will be able to determine whether or not the deployment of this advanced zero carbon energy in the state makes sense, and how best to proceed if a positive determination is made.”
FSU has previously partnered with MEA during the agency’s inaugural Resilient Maryland Grant program. Funds were provided to engineer a campus scale microgrid to service the campus and local community. FSU’s clean energy projects include targeting clean energy job training, sustainability and renewable energy. X-energy is a Maryland-based nuclear energy innovation company focused on the development of future zero-carbon nuclear energy. Conclusions drawn from this study will be made available later this year.
The X-Energy system in development imagines generation IV high-temp gas cooled reactors that use TRISO-X fuel. The units would each produce 80MWe of power with each facility deploying up to 12 units with a total capacity of about 1GWe.
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